A number of noteworthy bills were approved by public safety committees. One of them aims to trim the state’s growing bill for prisoner health care. The legislation by Democratic Senator Mark Leno would allow very sick inmates – those who are incapacitated – to be released on parole to private medical facilities. Leno says right now their care and supervision is costing the state tens of millions of dollars:
“Many of these inmates are placed in outside facilities, with two armed guards standing next to a comatose person, 24/7 at enormous cost to the state. I’d rather be paying teachers to stay in school, rather than watching comatose patients in a care facility.”
Leno says several hundred inmates would be eligible for the early parole – and their release would be decided by the state Board of Parole Hearings. Those opposed to the bill include counties who fear the cost will be passed on to them, as well as the group Crime Victims United. Dawn Koepke (KEP-kee) lobbies for the organization.
“This would be unjust and reduce those sentences, albeit to go to parole, but nevertheless, It is early release to parole and therefore hurting the victims again.”
Another high profile bill that cleared its first hurdle is what’s being called Chelsea’s law. The measure was introduced after a 17-year old girl, Chelsea King, was found murdered in a San Diego area park. A convicted child molester has pleaded guilty to the crime. The legislation would require life sentences for some child molesters, as well as lifetime parole and GPS monitoring for others.
A legislative committee also gave the go-ahead to a new online registry for animal abusers, similar to the Megan’s law database for sex offenders. Judie Mancuso is an animal rights advocate. She says the registry will give people information they need, but can’t easily get:
“Californians will be able to check that their new pet sitter is not an animal abuser, parents will be able to make sure that the new babysitter is not an animal abuser, before the person has contact with their children and pets.”
The registry would include those convicted of felony animal abuse. They’d have to provide personal information as well as a photograph and would remain on the registry for ten years. Opponents say they’re worried about the cost of creating the registration system. Lawmakers still have dozens of bills to wade through before the week is out. Those include measures to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened sports drinks at schools and another aimed at making it easier for community college students to transfer to a CSU