Hayne Palmour IV/North County Times
Next to a large photo of Chelsea King, Ramona High School softball player Lexi Slater, 16, cries as she and a fellow softball player, Courtney Fick, explain that even though they didn't know her, they wanted to come and show support.
The State Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed "Chelsea's Law," legislation aimed at tightening parole procedures for sexual predators and imposing life sentences on those who commit offenses against minors. The vote was 65-0.
The bill was authored by State Rep. Nathan Fletcher, R-75th District, who represents the parents of 17-year-old Chelsea King, a Poway High School senior who was raped and murdered in February by paroled sex offender John Gardner.
Gardner pleaded guilty to the crimes last month, along with the 2009 rape and murder of 14-year-old Amber DuBois, an Escondido High School freshman.
"What's happened is every parent's worst nightmare, every parent's worst fear," Fletcher said on the Assemby floor before votes were cast. "The primary responsibility of government is the protection of the innocent, the protection of our children. I think this measure goes a long way to insuraing that we have a system that better protects our children."
"The one-strike provision in this bill may be controversial, but it is smart and it's targeted and it manages a particularly violent class of predators," said State Rep. Marty Block, D-78th District.
The measure now moves to the State Senate's legislative process for consideration later this month.
Among concerns cited by skeptics are prison, parole and administrative costs estimated by state analysts as ranging from tens of millions of dollars annually in early years under "Chelsea's Law, to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.