"It's a bad idea."
After his organization gave $25,000 to the campaign for Prop. 83, or Jessica's Law, the head of the state prison guards union now says he plans to vote against the initiative. Speaking at a Capitol hearing on the mess that is California's prison system, Mike Jimenez had some pretty harsh words for an initiative that will have a direct effect on his membership. Jimenez said he thought the portion of the initiative that would prohibit sex offenders from living near schools or parks would create a wave of homeless sex offenders that will be harder to account keep track of.
He also suggested that the state was not ready to implement another aspect of the initiative that would require many sex offenders to wear Global Positioning Satellite devices for the rest of their lives. The state's parole system — parolee agents are members of the prison guards union — has been using GPS systems, but only in pilot programs.
After the hearing, Jimenez said his group gave money to the campaign while they were gathering signatures but had hoped the initiative would trigger a debate in the Legislature about prison reform that never really happened. He now believes that parole agents are going to be stuck trying to find places for sex offenders to live after the law passes and that the initiative would not make children safer as its promoters contend. "It's a bad idea," he said.
The union has typically helped support any initiative that toughened criminal sentences. They were very active in 2004 in defeating an initiative that would have weakened the state's three strikes law.