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California Sex Offender Laws Under Review

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By Kamika Dunlap on March 11, 2010 12:05 PM

Many say existing California sex offender laws don't go far enough and need to be under review.

Among those people are the parents of Chelsea King who said they will fight for changes in sex offender laws. Convicted sex offender John Gardner has been charged with murdering and raping their San Diego County teenager.

The question is whether federal law (Megan's Law) should have prevented 17-year-old Chelsea King's murder? And why California's own version, known as Jessica's Law, isn't working to better govern convicted sex offenders?

These are all concerns raised by state lawmakers who are looking at a top-to-bottom review of California sex offender laws, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In addition to being charged with murder, authorities are calling Gardner a person of interest in a case involving the body of another San Diego teenager, Amber Dubois, 14, who disappeared a year ago.

In 2000, Gardner pleaded guilty to committing a lewd act on a child. The victim was 13 at the time.

The two murders have pushed many people to their tipping point on how the legal system manages California sex offenders. Some have even started a Facebook page campaign Support One Strike Law for Sex Offenders, which has attracted about 6,500 people so far.

But legal experts say that the 1-strike law for sex offenders already exists.

The laws require sexual offenders to register their home addresses. In addition, some of the provisions prohibit them from living near within 2,000 feet of schools or parks.

In Gardner's case, his crime was committed under the terms of a 1994 law that puts violent sex offenders away after one conviction -- the very law people are clamoring for.

But instead of going to prison for life, Gardner's prosecutor cut him a plea deal that gave him six years.

That plea bargain allowed Gardner out on the streets again to reoffend.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego says closing loopholes will help make sex offender laws more effective.

He is supporting a series of legislative proposals going forward that will be known as Chelsea's Law.

 

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