California lawmakers advance bill targeting molesters
June 3, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A bill that would lock up some convicted child molesters for life cleared the state Assembly Thursday after lawmakers proclaimed that predators would never change their ways.
The bill, known as Chelsea’s Law, passed with a 65-0 vote. It now goes to the state Senate.
“For these predators, there is no rehabilitation,” said Assemblywoman Mary Salas, D-Chula Vista. “We must put them away so they can no longer threaten our children.”
The bill is named after Chelsea King, a 17-year-old girl who was murdered this year in a San Diego county park. A convicted child molester has pleaded guilty to raping and killing King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois.
Bill author Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, said the measure would add a life-without-parole punishment for the most dangerous predators who commit a sex crime against a child that includes kidnapping, using a weapon, torture, binding or drugging a victim.
Repeat offenders also could be sentenced to life.
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“While there are seemingly tough laws on the books for sex offenders, current California law does not address the most heinous sex offenders,” Fletcher said.
Juvenile offenders under the age of 18 could not be sentenced to life in prison, a provision added to the bill to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on minors.
The bill also would require the state to use GPS tracking for lifetime monitoring of those convicted of forcible sex crimes against children under 14. Currently, most tracking ends when offenders leave parole, despite an existing state lifetime monitoring law.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found the enhanced jail terms and increased oversight of child molesters would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Lawmakers did not address how the state, which is facing a $19 billion deficit, would pay for the bill if it becomes law.
Republican Danny Gilmore, R-Hanford, acknowledged the concern about the cost but told colleagues the lives of children are “priceless.”