AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Yet the Sacramento Legislature actually protects loopholes for sex criminals. The spectacle of it in recent years has become unnerving. Last year, KCRA-TV (Channel 3) in Sacramento reported that one loophole, called the “opt-out” clause, granted 2,677 sex offenders “an exclusion” from being named on the attorney general’s Web site. Legislators created the loophole, insisting that offenders found guilty of misdemeanors aren’t that dangerous. The truth is, nobody knows how many of them are wily chronic offenders who sneak under the radar. Last year, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, essentially argued that misdemeanor sex criminals just need jobs. As quoted by KCRA, Leno said, “If you deny them secure housing and deny them an opportunity to get on their feet and get a job and to be able to move forward for themselves and for their own children, they’re more likely to reoffend, not less likely.” Good Lord. Sex crimes are not caused by economic troubles. It was Leno, once again, who oversaw the demise last year of a bill to close the horrific Atascadero loopholes delineated by the Bee. Senate Bill 864 by Sen. Charles Poochigian would have extended the two-year “civil commitment” at Atascadero to an “indeterminate” length. Democrats in the Senate found it too strict, but Poochigian worked out a compromise. SB 864, approved by the Senate unanimously, required that sexually violent predators spend seven years at Atascadero. To the shock of many, the bill was killed by Mark Leno and his two equally ultraliberal colleagues, Los Angeles-area legislators Jackie Goldberg and Lloyd Levine, in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Now, in an election year, Leno and many Democrats tout his Assembly Bill 50 as the best way to increase penalties on molesters. Republicans, angry about Sacramento foot-dragging, are touting a much tougher November ballot measure, Jessica’s Law. Early on, AB 50 was filled with loopholes that would make your skin crawl. For instance, Leno provided an “exemption” from felony charges if a suspect was caught with less than 100 pieces of child pornography. In a creepy all-time low, Assembly Democrats voted for Leno’s plan to go soft on child porn. Political analyst Pat Caddell, a longtime Democrat, tells me: “What the Democrats did on AB 50 was insane, insane – 100 exemptions for child porn? They had to figure out this was not good? If this seeps into voters’ minds, my God.” After a ruckus, Leno made his bill much tougher. Sen. George Runner of Palmdale, a frustrated Republican, tells me, “What drove us to the ballot with Jessica’s Law is that we are tired of getting greatly watered-down versions of what needs to be done.” If Jessica’s Law makes the ballot – its backers say it will – voters might take action themselves. The law requires registered sex offenders to be GPS-monitored for life. It will cost taxpayers plenty, although, for perspective, probably not more than taxpayers spent on a bridge for San Francisco. Supporters of Leno’s AB 50 say GPS monitoring is only needed on sex criminals “likely” to offend again. But as experts note, the only way to know which molesters will reoffend is by releasing them and seeing who does. It’s a method California’s Legislature has been relying on for years. Jill Stewart is a print, radio and television commentator on California politics. She can be reached via her Web site, www.jillstewart.net.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! FOR years, California politicians have touted crackdowns on sex criminals to promote themselves as tough on crime. But recently, in a riveting investigative series, The Sacramento Bee confirmed what many had feared: California has among the most lenient laws in the nation toward sexually violent predators, society’s life-wreckers. Gaping loopholes in California law let hard-core sex criminals committed to Atascadero State Hospital choose whether they want treatment. Almost none choose treatment, and after a breezy two-year stint, they are released from Atascadero – usually unmonitored, by lax courts. As the Bee noted, the loophole is “precisely how 54 rapists and child molesters won release through the end of 2005 from their Atascadero commitments.” Chronic molesters are wily. They spend as much time wooing parents into feeling safe as they do plotting to abuse their children. They fool juries. Fighting back, many states have made incarceration for sex crimes much tougher to get around.