Governing magazine calls California’s Chelsea’s Law, passed after the rape and murder of San Diego area teen Chelsea King, a “rational, thoughtful” measure. That was an unexpected outcome, because many of the approaches that states take to prevent sex crimes are based more on fears than hard evidence. Chelsea’s Law began with a focus on tougher sentences and evolved into a “containment model” that researchers in the field describe as the most promising approach to reduce sex offender recidivism.
The approach couples mandatory treatment with intensive monitoring and regular lie-detector tests. While state policies often treat all offenders the same regardless of the nature of their crimes, the containment model is different. Parole officers and therapists place restrictions on offenders and pursue a treatment strategy based on their individual situations. Now California may mend some of the flaws of its earlier Jessica’s Law on sex offender residences and tracking.