California lawmakers advance bill targeting molesters
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A bill that would allow life sentences for some convicted child molesters and lifetime electronic monitoring of others cleared its first legislative committee Tuesday after a grieving father evoked the memory of his slain daughter.
The legislation was proposed after the slaying of 17-year-old Chelsea King in a San Diego County park. A convicted child molester, John Albert Gardner, pleaded guilty last week to raping and killing King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois along with assaulting another woman.
“Our daughter, Chelsea, would want to be here today,” Brent King told members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
He recalled her interest in promoting positive change and said it is a tragic irony that her murder has inspired public safety legislation.
“She’s behind this movement to protect our children,” King told committee members. “In her memory … please vote in favor of Assembly Bill 1844.”
Four committee members, two Democrats and two Republicans, approved the bill, sending it to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. One Democrat abstained, and two other Democrats were not present.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has given his support, applauding the effort to “create harsher penalties for those that prey on children.”
The bill proposed by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, would strengthen the current 15-year to 25-year sentence for a first offense of forcible sex crimes involving a child under 18.
Based on the discretion of district attorneys, it would allow a life sentence if there were aggravating factors such as kidnapping, use of a weapon, torture, binding or drugging a victim or a previous sex crime conviction.
The legislation also would double sentences for certain other sex crimes involving children and double parole from five to 10 years for those who are released after serving time for forcible sex crimes.
In addition, it would require lifetime parole with GPS monitoring for offenders convicted of forcible sex crimes against children under 14.
It also would ban sex offenders from parks.
California already has tough restrictions for sex offenders, including limits on how close they can live to schools and parks.
The law already requires lifetime electronic tracking of many sex offenders, but most tracking ends once offenders complete parole. Fletcher’s bill would require the state to monitor offenders for life.
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