San Diego Marks Chelsea's Law Anniversary

This week marks the six-year anniversary of Chelsea’s Law, named in honor of Poway’s Chelsea King.

Six years ago, the community of San Diego was thoroughly shaken by the abduction and murder of Poway teen Chelsea King by a convicted, repeat sex offender.

Chelsea was seventeen years old and a senior at Poway High School when she went for a run after school at Rancho Bernardo Community Park and never returned home again. Her body was found five days later near Lake Hodges with the search effort of hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who played a large role in supporting and upholding Chelsea’s law along with the King family, spoke about the legislation’s substantial impact in California at a press conference on Thursday.

Since Chelsea’s law passed in September 2010, Fletcher says that over 1,000 defendants in California have been charged and convicted under Chelsea’s law, with 38 of them serving 25 years to a life sentence.

“I remember thinking there’s nothing I won’t do to try and help this family, and I think everyone felt this way,” said Fletcher. “And that’s where you saw hundreds of thousands of people come together in a Facebook page and hundreds of families drive to Sacramento to lobby their legislators and send sunflowers.”

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From Brent King: Chelsea's Law continues to make California safer for all children. This law addresses a crime that...

Posted by Chelsea's Light on Thursday, February 25, 2016

Summer Stephan, Chief Deputy District Attorney of San Diego County, said that 126 defendants have been prosecuted in San Diego county within the past five years using provisions from Chelsea’s law.

Chelsea’s parents advocated for Chelsea’s Law to create stricter protections for children, said Fletcher. They found a silver lining in her death by lobbying for legislation that would protect other families and children from experiencing similar tragedies.

According to Mike Fender from the San Diego Officer Association, Chelsea’s law gave police the necessary tools to find violent predators suspected of crimes more effectively.

Two major criticisms of the bill were also addressed at the conference regarding funding and implementation. Fletcher said that the issue of funding for Chelsea’s law has been offset by reducing prison sentencing in California for low-level offenses.

The effects of Chelsea’s law include stricter sentences for sexual predators of children, longer probations, as well as life long monitoring and tracking of known offenders to prevent further crimes. It also added a one strike provision that allows judges to give sexual predators life long sentences without any possibility of parole.

“These certain sex offenders are like scorpions, where their venom will not stop hurting the children and the community until we have the tools to stop them,” said Stephan. “They will not stop on their own. Chelsea’s law provided those tools to make sure that they are stopped.”

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