The LookOut news

Homeless Account for High Percentage of Parole, Sex Offender Arrests

By Jorge Casuso

Oct. 14 -- Transients accounted for more than one-third of those arrested in Santa Monica for violating parole during the past five years, although the homeless constitute about one percent of the city's population, according to a report compiled by Police Chief James T. Butts Jr.

In addition, transients made up nearly one quarter of all registered sex offenders (13 of 59) and accounted for 67 percent (48 of 72) of those arrested for failing to comply with sexual offender registration requirements, according to the report given to the City Council before last Tuesday's meeting.

Of the 1,113 persons arrested for parole violations since 1997, 427 (or 38 percent) were transients, although Santa Monica's homeless population represents approximately 1,000 persons on any given day, Butts said.

By comparison, 207 of those arrested for parole violations (19 percent) were Santa Monica housed residents, who make up the city's bedroom population of approximately 84,000. Non-Santa Monica residents, who swell that population to about 250,000 a day, accounted for 461 (42 percent) of the arrests, according to the report.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002* TOTAL %
SM Residents 40 35 29 32 38 33 207 19%
Non-SM Res. 61 63 65 74 127 71 461 42%
Transients 37 54 68 69 108 91 427 38%

The numbers reflect the parolees either arrested for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of their parole or who were caught in the act of committing fresh crimes, Butts said. As a result, the number of paroled convicts living among Santa Monica's homeless population is likely greater than the figures indicate.

The arrest statistics, Butts said, "don't let you have an understanding of the complete subset of parolees in our homeless population." He added, "Experience has shown us that significant numbers of (homeless) are on parole and probation."

Butts said that tracking and arresting parole offenders has been a top priority for the department, which receives an updated list of paroled convicts from the State Department of Corrections every month. "This has been a department goal for five years because we know this is there," Butts said.

Butts said he compiled the report so the council members could consider the findings when they approved two ordinances last week that curb free meal programs in the parks by requiring County and City permits and ban sleeping in the doorways of Downtown storefronts overnight.

"The police department is doing its job," Butts said. "There has to be consensus that when you set City policies, you have to have this in mind."

Sex offenders must register with a city's police department or sheriff's office if they stay in that city for at least five days. If they are homeless, they can use a PO Box or the address of a social service agency, Butts said.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002* TOTAL %
SM Residents 2 0 1 0 2 1 6 8%
Non-Residents 3 5 4 1 4 1 18 25%
Transients 5 6 9 10 7 11 48 67%

According to the report, 59 sex offenders (22 percent of them homeless) are currently registered in Santa Monica. In addition, three registered sex offenders -- including two Santa Monica College students -- live outside the city.

When non-Santa Monica residents are excluded from the pool of sex offenders arrested, "the disparity is even greater," Butts wrote in the report. Transients, he noted, "account for 89 percent (48 of 54 arrests) of those taken into custody over the last five years."

List of Sex Offenders Registered in Santa Monica

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