What Are the Costs of Chelsea's Law? - NBC 7 San Diego

What Are the Costs of Chelsea's Law?



    What Are the Costs of Chelsea's Law?
    Getty Images/David Paul Morris

    Up until recently it wasn't really known how much money it would take to implement Chelsea's Law, but a review from the state corrections department came up with some eye-opening numbers.

    A life sentence for sexually violent predators -- it may seem like a good idea, but how feasible is it?

    Criminal defense lawyer Gretchen Von Helms said that Chelsea's Law would be misallocation of money and that it won't necessarily put up a good fight against sex offenders.

    "Throwing more laws at this problem is probably just going to cost a lot of money and not work out very well," von Helms said.

    Instead of going to jail for up to 25 years, the bill would mandate a life sentence for those who commit sex crimes against minors. It would also double the parole term for other offenders, while requiring predators to wear a GPS tracking device for life.

    "What price do you put on the protetion of children?" Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said.

    By the year 2015, the law could cost roughly $1 million to implement. By 2020, the price tag would rise to $9 million, and could go up to roughly $54 million  10 years later.

    Fletcher argues that the law would cost only a fraction of the state's annual budget, which exceeds $100 billion.

    "Even at the most expensive point in the out years, we're talking about something along the lines of 1/20th of 1 percent of the state budget," Fletcher said.

    But the state's budget is already tight, and steps were taken recently to reduce costs, with low level offenders being released before their senteces were completed, all in an effort to save the state money

    "It may be better to put that money into education to make all of our children grow up and have opportunities," von Helms said.

    "I absolutely disagree with someone that says that we can't do this as a state," Fletcher said. "I think we have to."

    Chelsea's Law did pass its first hurdle in Sacramento. The next one will be on Friday.