- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2010

SAN DIEGO — “Chelsea’s Law,” which would incarcerate California’s worse sex offenders for life without parole, heads to the state senate floor next week after the measure unanimously passed in a state Senate committee Thursday.

Authored by San Diego Republican Nathan Fletcher, Assembly Bill 1844 would also increase parole terms for offenders who target children younger than 14 and provide a containment model and risk assessment that could keep mentally disordered offenders in prison longer if deemed necessary. 

“Months of hard work, countless volunteer hours and a broad coalition of supporters have brought us this far,” said Mr. Fletcher, who worked with the family of murdered 17-year-old Chelsea King to craft the bill. “Chelsea’s Law takes California in a bold new direction. We are fundamentally changing how our state deals with sex offenders and protects the innocent.”

Chelsea’s parents, Brent and Kelly King, said, “We commend Senator Kehoe for her leadership and for being among those who have supported Chelsea’s Law since its introduction,” referring to state Sen. Christine Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat who is chair of the state Senate appropriations committee, which passed the bill on Thursday.

Recent amendments would place paroled offenders who pose the greatest threat under more scrutiny by authorities. They also would restrict sex offenders’ ability to enter parks, require that Megan’s Law publicly list sex offenders’ risk assessment scores and revise the California mentally disordered offender laws to provide for continued detention of offenders where evaluation and assessment find it to be necessary.

Chelsea’s Law has the support of 68 legislative coauthors, plus Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, numerous California district attorneys and a number of California cities and counties. 

Chelsea King was found in a shallow lakeshore grave a few days after going for a jog in Rancho Bernardo Community Park in March. Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III was sentenced for her rape and murder in May.

AB 1844 is also being driven by Chelsea’s Light Foundation, which has a membership of law enforcement groups, crime victim advocates and concerned citizens around the world.