Chelsea's Law Heads to Senate Vote

Chelsea King, Amber Dubois were murdered by paroled sex offender

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chelsea's Light

    The State Senate Appropriations Committee votes on the sex-offender legislation.

    The committee's approved the measure, which was authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, unanimously in Thursday's vote.

    Chelsea King, a 17-year-old Poway high school senior, was raped and murdered by convicted sex offender John Gardner earlier this year. Gardner, who also admitted raping and murdering Escondido teen Amber DuBois, is now serving a life sentence.

    The bill includes a one-strike provision for the most violent sex offenders, lengthier prison terms for forcible sex crimes and restrictions on sex offenders' ability to enter parks.

    Among concerns originally cited by skeptics when the law was proposed were that prison, parole and administrative costs estimated by state analysts as ranging from tens of millions of dollars annually in the early years under Chelsea's Law, to hundreds of millions of dollars annually over time.

    However, Fletcher's office said in a statement Thursday that "recent amendments incorporated into the legislation have extended its impact on California's public safety system while jointly rendering it cost neutral."

    Prior to the legislation moving to the appropriations committee, Fletcher offered several amendments to the legislation, some of which would save money elsewhere in state corrections spending. One includes allowing many people convicted of petty theft to serve their time in county jails, rather than being sent to prison.

    Fletcher also limited the bill's lifetime parole provision to habitual sex offenders and those convicted of such crimes as aggravated sexual assault on a child. Those convicted of other sex crimes involving children would be monitored for 10 or 20 years after leaving prison, depending on the severity of the offense.

    "There's some significant cost savings just in that. Lifetime parole for a sex offender population, as you can imagine, adds up," said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

    Fletcher released the following statement after the committee's vote on Thursday.

    "It is a good day for the safety of our children," Fletcher said after the vote. "We are one step closer to Chelsea's Law becoming a reality. Months of hard work, countless volunteer hours and a broad coalition of supporters have brought us this far, and we won't stop until this bill is signed into law."

    Chelsea's parents, who, since the killing, have moved out of state, also released a statement on Thursday.

    "We commend Senator Kehoe for her leadership and for being among those who have supported Chelsea's Law since its introduction," Chelsea's parents, Kelly and Brent King, said in a statement released Thursday. "The momentum is continuing to build for the elimination of further harm to our state's children by violent offenders."

    The step was welcomed by the officials operation the Chelsea's Light Facebook page, which now has nearly 100,000 supporters.

    Next, the legislation will move to the floor of the state Senate, which will vote on the measure after hearing it next week, according to Fletcher's office.