SACRAMENTO — State senators unanimously approved tough legislation Tuesday that calls for locking up some child molesters for life.
The bill was spurred by the slaying of two teenagers and named after 17-year-old Chelsea King, who was murdered in a San Diego County park this year. A convicted child molester has pleaded guilty to raping and killing Chelsea and 14-year-old Amber Dubois.
"This tragedy exposed a number of serious flaws in how California deals with violent sex offenders," said Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, who carried the bill in the Senate.
The bill would reserve life without parole for adult predators who kidnap, drug, bind, torture or use a weapon while committing a sex crime against a child. The life terms could be ordered for first-time and repeat offenders.
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The measure increases other penalties for child molesters, including requiring lifetime parole with global positioning system tracking for those convicted of forcible sex crimes against children younger than 14. Current law permits lifetime GPS monitoring, but most tracking ends when offenders leave parole.
The nonpartisan legislative analyst's office had found the increased prison terms and parole monitoring could eventually cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
However, the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, amended the bill in the Senate to offset its cost as the state faces a $19 billion deficit.
Because it was amended, AB 1844 must return to the Assembly for a final vote before it goes to Gov. Schwarzenegger, who issued a statement supporting the bill.