Now just two steps away from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk, Chelsea's Law could transform the state's approach to sex offenders through a balance of longer sentences, tougher parole conditions and targeted treatment. “We've stayed focused on the worst of the worst,” said Brent King, father of the slain teenager whose name on the bill serves as a lasting memorial, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The law could spawn a national movement driven by Chelsea's parents for reforms in other states.
Its apparent success already has encouraged lawmakers to begin laying the groundwork for introducing legislation next year to attack an issue involving sex offenders: residency restrictions that have driven many into homelessness or underground. Some experts express caution, noting that some past efforts to crack down on sex offenders – such as lifetime GPS tracking for those on parole – have fallen short. “Overall, the intent of this legislation is laudable,” said professor Sheldon Zhang, the chairman of the sociology department at San Diego State University who specializes in criminology. “Like so many other crime-fighting (measures), politicians as well as the public may feel some vindication of their moral outrage, but rarely think through the consequences of passing a legal mandate without the necessary resources. Unenforced or unenforceable laws cause cynicism and public distrust of our legal and political system.”