Steinberg seeks sex offender review beyond 'what sounds good'

SACRAMENTO-- California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg says he'll seek a state investigation into California's supervision of sex offenders that goes beyond the circumstances of two Orange County transients recently accused of killing multiple women while they were supervised by state and federal agents and tracked on electronic monitors.

Steinberg's staff said Friday that the Sacramento Democrat planned Monday to formally request a probe by the Office of the Inspector General. However, speaking at a public policy forum Monday afternoon, Steinberg said his office is still drafting a call for an inquiry into the $63.5 million California spends each year supervising some 6,000 sex offenders with GPS monitors.

"We spend a lot of money on this one strategy and we ought to evaluate its effectiveness," Steinberg said. "I just think everything -- no matter what sounds good or might make people feel better -- ought to be evaluated."

Jessica's Law, which California voters passed in 2006, requires lifelong GPS tracking of some sex offenders. The state currently uses GPS to monitor all sex offenders while they are on parole from prison. "It might be a better use of some of these resources to provide housing, where there was the right kind of security," Steinberg said. But he said he is being careful in how he raises the question, because "this is easily politicized and that is not my point."

Another state policy group is questioning another aspect of California's sex offender penalties, Megan's Law.

Members of the California Sex Offender Management Board, created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 to guide the state's sex offender policies, recently released a report arguing against the requirement all sex offenders register their home addresses for life.

The report contends that the sex offender registry fails to recognize that not all sex offenders pose an equal public threat. It contends that safety would be improved by focusing resources on the most dangerous offenders. There are about 98,000 convicted sex offenders on California's registry. The board estimates it costs $24 million a year to maintain the list.

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