California lawmakers this week will take up a subject regarded as politically risky: amendments to a sex offender measure, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Backers say the changes to AB1844 would focus the state’s limited resources on the worst child molesters and would make great strides toward fixing how California deals with people found guilty of sex crimes–even if, at first glance, some of its provisions appear to ease restrictions for some convicted criminals. Perhaps just as unusual–the revised bill is the result of a rare bipartisan collaboration.
For years, experts on the issue have complained that state laws were determined more by sound-bite politics than policies that improve public safety and protect children. Elected leaders, wary of accusations that they were being soft on sexual predators, have historically stayed clear of reforming such laws, except to make them harsher. The proposal is called Chelsea’s Law, after a San Diego teen killed by a registered sex offender in February. Like many legislative responses to horrific crimes against children, it began as a punitive measure that would have increased the sentences and parole terms given to child molesters. Changes made last month include tailoring those sentencing and parole requirements to specific crimes, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.