Today — February 25, 2014 — I want to take a moment to remember the legacy of a girl named Chelsea King.
Chelsea was an activist, a runner, a student, a friend, a daughter, and a spunky, charismatic, jovial bubble of joy. This Tuesday marks the fourth anniversary of Chelsea’s disappearance from Poway, Calif., and eventual murder. While she no can longer light up rooms with her smile or belt out a tune on her French horn, her legacy carries on today in the form of Chelsea’s Law.
Chelsea’s Law protects California’s children today with increased penalties, parole provisions and oversight for violent sexual offenders of children. This law is specifically targeted at criminals that our society cannot risk letting loose again: Certain offenses carry a one-strike punishment, meaning that especially vicious crimes would automatically merit life imprisonment without parole.
The rationale for such harsh sentences is clear: The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that child molesters and statutory rapists released from prison have a 5.1% recidivism rate — 5.1% of these criminals were rearrested for a new sex crime within three years of their release. While that number does not seem very high, over the course of many years, not adopting a one-strike law would risk the safety of many children. Chelsea’s Law is now in place in California, and variants of it are being pushed forward in other states to prevent these avoidable tragedies. Full Article