Sunday, March 02, 2008

Star News Article About Meadows Victory

Officials deem sex offenders' home unfit for neighborhood
By Elise Kleeman, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 02/28/2008 10:53:41 PM PST

Read more from the Crime Scene blog
ALTADENA - Following an outpouring of community outrage, six high-risk sex offenders installed this month at a home in an isolated Altadena neighborhood will be relocated by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, officials announced Thursday.
By Monday, all of the men will be moved from the single-family home on Risinghill Road, said representatives for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, who worked together to bring about the change.
"Placing one next door to a family with young children would be irresponsible," Antonovich said. "You don't give an arsonist matches and then place them on parole."
Residents of the quiet corner of northwest Altadena known as The Meadows decried the parolees' placement in their community, citing the neighborhood's large number of young children, lack of street lighting or bus service and proximity to parks, hiking trails and a school.
"The community is relieved beyond belief, or we certainly will be by Monday," said Dennis Bridwell, who lives four houses away from the residence.
Four of the men were convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child younger than 14, including one man who used force and another who sodomized his victim. The others were found guilty of rape by force or fear, with one also convicted of sexual battery. The men ranged in age from 28 to 56.
A representative for the operator of the group home, New Beginnings Sober Living, did not return several requests for comment Thursday.
Roy Cheney, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, did not know Thursday afternoon where the men would be relocated.
Finding housing for sex offenders, he said, "is like trying to push a 18-wheeler up a hill with a rope."
"Some things perhaps weren't taken into consideration when the laws were made," he said.
California's Proposition 83, the state's version of Jessica's Law, bars high-risk sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or half a mile of a school.
Despite some neighbors' contention that the group home violated the law because of its proximity to Hahamongna Watershed Park and the Angeles National Forest, "the house was very compliant," Cheney said.
The men were moved, he said, because their present location "wasn't in the best interest of everyone." He was unable to specify which aspects of the location made it unsuitable.
"We're grateful, we're thrilled," said Meadows resident Jane Scabo. "I feel personally just a tad guilty that they're going to be in someone else's neighborhood. It doesn't resolve the bigger problem of where do these people go."
Portantino said he was "pleased that the parole department rectified the situation and moved these folks out."
"In that way, this worked. But that doesn't mean we can't look at these situations to improve them," he added.
Thursday, Antonovich advocated moving high-risk sex offenders outside any neighborhood with children.
He said he would direct county lawyers at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors' meeting to determine if Jessica's Law will authorize local governments to further restrict the housing of sex offenders in neighborhoods.
"They committed a crime, they were convicted for molestation, and the neighborhood does not have have the responsibility to provide housing for them for the rest of their life," said Antonovich.
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