California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law today, called "Chelsea's Law," that stiffens penalties for violent sex offenses against children. The law (see PDF), immediately changes the sentencing guidelines in many current sex offender cases in California courts. Among other provisions, the new law allows for life sentences for sex offenders who attack children under the age of 14 and makes some sex offenders eligible for life parole. Chelsea's Law includes an urgency clause that makes it effective immediately.
The legislation was introduced in the state legislature after registered sex offender John Gardner III was arrested in the February 2010 rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King in San Diego. According to the Los Angeles Times, in May 2010, Gardner pled guilty in the murders of both King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who had been missing for a year. He is currently serving three consecutive life sentences and has no possibility of parole.
The law, which was sponsored by state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R) of San Diego, passed by a rare unanimous vote in the California state legislature. Chelsea's mother, Kelly King, told the lawmakers at the bill signing that "You've shown [the next generation] what is good and right and sound decision making in government," reported CNN. Chelsea's father, Brent King, has said he was initially skeptical about whether or not the bill could pass in the state legislature and had considered seeking passage of the law through the ballot initiative process, according to the Associated Press.
Media Resources: AB 1844; Los Angeles Times 9/9/10; Associated Press 9/9/10; CNN 9/9/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .