Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District) have announced a proposal for a new County Ordinance to create a child safety zone to further protect children from registered sex offenders. The Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter County recreational areas where children regularly gather.

The Board of Supervisors will hear the Ordinance for the first time, and set the title. On that date, the entire Board of Supervisors will consider the matter and place the Ordinance on the Agenda of the next regularly scheduled Board meeting for adoption on April 4, 2011.

“I applaud Supervisor Nelson for taking this step to help protect the children of Orange County,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas. “Registered sex offenders should not have the right to go into parks and places where children gather. Parks do not belong to sexual deviants. Parks belong to children who want to play there and parents who want to enjoy nature with their children.” 

California Penal Code requires individuals convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders. The registration process is used to ensure that such offenders shall be readily available for police surveillance at all times. Such offenders are deemed likely to commit similar offenses in the future.

“Parents and children should expect that county parks are free from sexual predators. This ordinance gives our law enforcement personnel the tools they need to keep our parks free from threats,” stated Supervisor Nelson. “I’ve worked closely with our District Attorney to craft this ordinance designed to ensure the safety of our children.” 

Orange County offers regional recreational facilities, including historical and natural resources, as part of OC Community Resources and OC Dana Point Harbor. Nearly 60,000 acres of parkland and open space include regional and wilderness parks, nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors, and beaches where children regularly gather. Typical amenities in these areas include picnic and barbecue facilities, campgrounds, maintained hiking trails, playgrounds, and various learning centers where families regularly visit. Accordingly, Orange County regional recreational facilities have been identified as areas where children regularly gather. The proposed ordinance seeks to protect children by restricting registered sex offenders’ access to these locations. 

Violators could be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.