Questions Raised Over Cost Of Chelsea's Law
Critics Say Law Could Create More Trials, Appeals
Last Updated: 1303 days ago
The parents of Chelsea King are returning to San Diego after traveling to Washington, D.C. in support of the Chelsea's Law proposal.However, while the law gains momentum, some critics are raising concerns about the cost associated with it.State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said there will likely be adjustments to the law. For instance, the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that no one under 18 can get life without parole, so that penalty under Chelsea's Law will have to be amended.Fletcher, the law's author, said there is work to do, but he's cautiously optimistic despite the huge price tag.Brent and Kelly King made the rounds in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. with Fletcher in an effort to drum up support in some influential offices."I think a lot of the state legislators will listen to what our two U.S. senators say and will take guidance from them," said Fletcher.Fletcher doesn't have that support yet but said the meetings were productive. He admitted the battle is a tough one.Two calculations have been done that estimated the cost of lifetime monitoring for sex offenders and longer prison terms. The price for both is steep.State prison officials estimated following the language of the law would cost $54 million per year, and hundreds of millions per year projected by the California Legislative Analyst's Office."Nobody knows what it'll cost. What's clear is it'll cost something and we're already in dire straits in California with trying to do way too much about things we can't do anything about," said San Diego State University criminal justice professor Paul Sutton.That said, Sutton thinks Chelsea's Law will pass anyway because it is politically correct.Another observer agreed that some aspects of the law can work."I think increasing parole supervision is doable," said Rebecca Jones, president of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Club.But she said longer prison terms for offenders could backfire."If you double the sentence for anything, you're going to decrease the likelihood a defendant will plead guilty," said Jones.That, she said, would create a snowball effect that could include more trials and more appeals."You have to be really smart about the way you spend money and target strategically how you're spending money to keep the public safe and I don't think Chelsea's Law does that," said Jones.A key vote is on the agenda for next week for the State Assembly Appropriations Committee to decide if money can be found and where.The law will then make its way to the Assembly floor in early June.