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Bills push tougher rules for sex offenders

February 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
After successfully getting tougher sex-offender laws passed through the Legislature last year, Moe DuBois is back for more. He says he won't stop until he's satisfied.

Just after the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of his murdered daughter Amber, Dubois comes to the state Capitol with a mission: to protect other children from sex offenders.

Amber DuBois went missing in February 2009 and wasn't found for more than a year.

John Albert Gardner, a convicted sex offender, led authorities to the 14-year-old's remains after his arrest for the kidnapping and rape of another San Diego-area teen, Chelsea King.

"My only child had to suffer the worst possible thing that a child should have to face," said Moe DuBois. "I don't want anyone else's family to have to go through this."

DuBois is pushing for tougher laws against sex offenders and giving victims more rights by:

  • Putting a special, yet-to-be-determined mark, on their driver's licenses
  • Giving written notices to neighbors of a sex offender moving in within a 1,000 feet
  • Forcing out-of-state sex offenders to register in California once they re-locate here
  • And keeping courts from releasing victim statements until after the hearing.

State Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) will be championing the bills through the Legislature this year.

"This is something that is extremely important to me, somebody who's a father, somebody who has six grandkids," said Cook.

The special mark on the driver's licenses is the most controversial and could be potentially expensive to alter the card given the state's budget problems.

That's just one of the problems criminal defense attorneys have.

"It's a very weak package, it costs a lot of money, very little return, and it really does a disservice, I think, to the public," said Ignacio Hernandez, a lobbyist for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. "The public should know that there are a lot of laws in place right now that do protect them from registered sex offenders."

But existing laws are not enough for DuBois.

"Our system of protecting our children lacks in many, many ways," said DuBois. "The only answer I see is, What can we do to make it not happen again?"

Other states put special marks on driver's licenses. Louisiana, for instance, actually has the words "sex offender" in orange on the card. DuBois would settle for something less conspicuous, similar to police using an ultraviolet light to see a special mark.