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New CA Sex Offender Law Comes with Large Price Tag

California's newly proposed sex offender law, known as Chelsea's Law, comes with an expensive price tag that could cost taxpayers tens of millions annually.

The cost information comes from a recently released fiscal report, which supporters of the legislation say is a small price to pay to for the protection of children. But, opponents argue, it will force the state to make tough decisions and slash other equally important social service programs, the San Diego News reports. 

The cost of Chelsea's Law could mean $54 million in added expenses.

As previously discussed, Chelsea's Law (AB 1844) is sponsored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) and calls for some child molesters to be on lifetime parole with electronic monitoring. The bill would establish a new penalty of a life sentence without the possibility of parole for forcible sex crimes against those younger than 18 when there are aggravating circumstances.

Fletcher says public safety should be the highest priority as the community has a responsibility to protect children.

According to the report by nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, the measure would likely result in increased criminal justice system costs.

The per-year price of the sex offender law would be mainly attributed to the potential need for more prison beds for predators kept behind bars longer and who would be subject to stricter parole conditions when released, the report said.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he remains committed to signing Chelsea's Law, despite the potential expense.

As previously discussed, the revised sex offender law is in response to John Albert Gardner III, who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the rapes and murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.

The parents of slain San Diego County teenager Chelsea King have been pushing for a stricter penalties on sex offenders. By revising California's sex offender laws, they hope to deprive sexual predators of a second chance to commit a crime.

The state assembly appropriations committee will cast its final vote May 26, on Chelsea's Law. If the bill passes committee, it then goes on to a vote in the full assembly, followed by committee votes in the state senate.