Here in Arizona you are a "sex offender"
if you get caught going to the bathroom in an ally.
Or if you were over 18 and had consensual sex with a person under 18.
And you in both cases you are required to register as a sex offender.
The article says that statutory rape (consensual sex of an adult having sex with a minor will get you on the list in California.
I think going to the bathroom in an alley in California will also get you on the list like here in Arizona)
Board wants to remove low-risk sex offenders from registry
Updated 4:02 am, Sunday, May 25, 2014
Sacramento -- The state board that oversees California's sex offender registration laws wants to thin out and overhaul the registry because they say it has grown too big and does not help law enforcement or the public differentiate between offenders who pose significant risks and those not likely to reoffend.
The California Sex Offender Management Board is recommending to the Legislature that only high-risk offenders, such as kidnappers and sexually violent predators, should be required to register for life. Others could be removed from the registry 10 to 20 years after the offense.
The list of almost 100,000 sex offenders is unwieldy, they said, because California requires all sex offenders, regardless of the type of offense, to register for life.
The result, according to a board report last month, is that the list includes many offenders "who do not necessarily pose a risk to the community," including almost 900 whose last sex crime was more than 55 years ago.
Some law enforcement officials and lawmakers are supporting the recommendations acknowledging that public opinion is not on their side and risking the dreaded "soft on crime" label that has caused some politicians to avoid lending support.
"People are very concerned about this," said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore (Riverside County), who has talked to constituents about similar proposals in the past. "I'm open and willing to be educated on the issue, but I'm not saying now I'm leaning toward it."
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who supports the changes, said: "It's a radioactive issue to a lot of people. Understandably. But, this can't be ignored."
California created the registry in 1947 as a tracking tool for law enforcement. Today, the registry continues guiding law enforcement but is also used for Megan's Law, which allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offenders who pose a risk and offers the public a searchable website of most registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
Of the 97,000 sex offenders on California's registry, about 75,000 live in communities across the state and 22,000 are incarcerated. About 80 percent of all the offenders are posted on the Megan's Law website. Some are excluded when the crime they are convicted of does not require public notification or in some first-time offenses.
The registry was created, in part, on assumptions that have since been proved to be wrong, according to the board.
Most sex crimes are not committed by previously identified sex offenders. About 95 percent of solved sex crimes are committed by persons not on the registry.
Having a sex offender registry has not been shown to decrease the number of sex offenses.
Not all sex offenders are alike; they differ in their risk to reoffend.
Many specific aspects of the board's proposal - including the level of review and oversight involved before someone is removed from the registry - are still being debated, said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, chairwoman of the state Sex Offender Management Board.
"What we are proposing won't jeopardize public safety or unleash sex offenders who are dangerous in the community," O'Malley said. "If done correctly and if done in a way that isn't so broad that no one is held accountable, then the public doesn't have to fear about their safety or their children's safety."
California is one of four states that require lifetime registration for sex offenders, regardless of the nature of the offense. Someone who made obscene and harassing phone calls to children is listed alongside a repeat molester.
The board recommends a tiered system similar to what other states use in which the length of time a person appears on a registry depends on their crime and risk of reoffending.
In Butte County, District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he knows of a man whose last sex crime was 40 years ago and despite not so much as a traffic ticket since, the man and his wife were recently denied housing because he is a registered sex offender.
"There is no need to continue to monitor some low-level offenders and waste those resources," Ramsey said. "We have to prioritize."
Still, the proposed changes make some lawmakers uneasy.
"I think all sex offenders are dangerous, period," said state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber (Tehama County). "I'm willing to work in a responsible way on legislation that builds in the highest level of protections for the public. This proposal concerns me enormously. ... I think the risks are too great to try to intellectualize this stuff."
Tom Tobin, a Bay Area psychologist who works with sex offenders, said removing offenders from the registry who have been assessed as low-risk after a decade or more without committing a crime would allow law enforcement and the public to focus on those most likely to commit additional sex crimes.
"California's system has essentially been in place since 1947, and we know a lot more than we did then," said Tobin, who is vice chair of the state's Sex Offender Management Board, which is made up of law enforcement officials, advocates and researchers appointed by the governor and Legislature. "The system California has now basically treats sex offenders as if they are all the same and equally dangerous and equally at risk and should be tracked and followed equally for their entire lives. Forty-six other states and the federal government think that's a bad use of limited resources and counterproductive."
In the past four years, Ammiano has tried twice to pass legislation creating the tiered system in California, with his first bill garnering 19 ayes among the 82 Assembly members. His second bill made it through its first committee last year, but was held in another without a vote.
His proposal would have allowed those convicted of low- to moderate-level sex crimes, including those he referred to as "Romeo and Juliet situations" that involve adults having non-forced sex with a minor teenager, to petition to be removed from the state's sex offender registry after 10 or 20 years depending on the crime.
Ammiano, who is chairman of the Assembly's public safety committee, said he realizes he's probably running out of time to change registry requirements before terming out this year, unless he used a legislative "gut-and-amend" process that inserts new language into a stalled bill. He said that's not likely because he doesn't think the votes will be there to pass the bill.
Ammiano said lawmakers would tell him in the Capitol hallways that the tiered system makes sense, but they couldn't support it because of the political fallout.
"I've met with parents who have gone through hell, but I want to give them a policy that works," Ammiano said. "People act from the gut, and I understand it. We have to deal with the issue in the most effective way."
Melody Gutierrez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez