Saturday, March 18, 2006

Proposed California Sex-Offender Law: A Step Forward

A proposed new law in California would require much closer monitoring of high-risk sex offenders:
Two bills related to the tracking and penalizing of sex offenders passed unanimously in the California Senate Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1178, authored by state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, would require high-risk sex offenders who are released from prison on parole or probation to be fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) device, according to Tracy Fairchild, a spokeswoman for Speier.

Senate Bill 1128, by state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, increases penalties and the length of parole time for certain types of sex offenders, Alquist's office reported.

Fairchild described the unanimous votes in favor of both bills as "miraculous,'' saying that many bills do not make it through the Senate Public Safety Committee.

"It's past time'' for California to have legislation related to sex offenders like these two bills, Alquist said.

The GPS tracking devices mandated for high-risk sex offenders in Senate Bill 1178 would act as a deterrent for released sex offenders, and would help parole and probation officers track these sex offenders more easily, Fairchild said.

The goal of the legislation is to prevent sex offenders from re-offending, Fairchild said.

Fairchild described GPS as "incredibly valuable technology'' that would be welcomed by law enforcement officials.

Senate Bill 1128 strengthens penalties in child pornography and child rape cases and lengthens the parole time for violent sexual offenders. The bill would also continue to allow police to conduct sting operations over the Internet to catch sex offenders, Alquist's office reported.

Alquist's office contrasted her legislation with the proposed "Jessica's Law'' statewide ballot initiative, which would require all sex offenders released on parole to wear GPS devices regardless of their risk level -- an approach Alquist's office described as "gimmicky.''

Alquist described her legislation as "the toughest measure on sexual predators in America.''

Supporters of the two bills include relatives of child victims of sex crimes and law enforcement officials from the San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County Probation Department.

According to Fairchild, it may take until the end of the legislative session for the bills to work their way through the Legislature.
Personally, when it comes to the crime of child molestation, I would like to see perpetrators sentenced to "life without possibility of parole."
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