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Jonathan Kraut: SCV on a trajectory for tragedy

Posted: April 5, 2010 3:03 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Good government is that which is executed by thoughtful, mature, consensus builders who mobilize public and political sentiment to act in a meaningful way to safeguard and support our well-being and prosperity.

To me, good government means gathering and reviewing pertinent information, setting and enacting policies and insuring mechanisms are in place to make sure our tax dollars are well spent toward these ends.

According to this definition, especially applied to our state legislators, we do not have good government.

Regarding some state senators and Assembly members, you can count a knee-jerk reaction after the fact. Some politicians seem to carry on endlessly about policies they failed to see were ineffective until after a tragedy has occurred.

Those officials who protest the loudest after a tragedy are the ones who did not have the foresight to see the exposure to risk in the first place. In the Army we described these characters as having "10 guns and no ammo."

Look at all the legislation named in honor of unfortunate victims of sexual predators, for example. We have Jessica's Law, supposed to prevent the release of dangerous predators and monitor their whereabouts upon release. Then there's the Amber Alert that announces child abductions after they have already occurred. And Megan's Law lets you go online and locate all the sexual predators near your home or your child's school.

These useless laws were not only enacted as an emotional response after the unnecessary loss of an innocent soul, but none of these enactments address the real issues with comprehensive policies that will prevent a tragedy from striking again.

Case in point - the recent death of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old San Diego-area girl allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered by registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III. King's life was not lost because Gardner, already convicted for molesting a 13-year-old girl, did not follow the rules set out for him. Her life was lost because an uncured sexual predator was released from prison.

No matter what laws our legislators enact in the name of victims, the odds are some convicted offenders, if set free, will rape, kidnap or kill again.

The California Department of Probation Services reported that Gardner let his "mandatory GPS monitor" batteries die four times and as a result he received no disciplinary action. If only he would have cooperated, might Jessica's Law have been effective? No, unless you have a GPS on every child and teen in the U.S., how do you know when a sexual predator is too close to a potential victim? And besides, no one is tracking these clowns anyway.

Also, Gardner was living with his parents in one town many miles away from where he was "registered." There goes Amber's Law. And as reported by the Associated Press on April 1, Gardner had a Myspace page, in violation of his terms of probation. Wow, what a shock - a convicted criminal who does not follow the law.

After the death of the innocent is not the time to complain about the present laws and call for new action with the press eagerly gathered around. True leaders anticipate these tragedies, design policies that eliminate risk, enact these polices as law and, most importantly, enforce these laws.

State Assemblyman Nathan Bernardo, R-Rancho Bernardo, representing Chelsea King's district, announced live on AM-640 KFI's "John

And Ken Show," on March 23 that he is planning to introduce "Chelsea's Law." The law would include lifetime parole, lifetime GPS monitoring and "safe zones," where children and teens could "feel safe" from predators.

Well, how about feeling safe everywhere? Chelsea's Law as described is yet another inept attempt to do something that has no value - and it just costs us more money.

State Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, has rested his career on the Amber Alert and California's version of Jessica's Law - neither of which stops predators from taking victims or prevented Gardner from taking the life of Chelsea King.

One day, a tragedy like Chelsea King's; or that of Amber Dubois, a 14-year-old found dead but a few weeks ago; or Jessica Lundsford; or Amber Hagerman; or Megan Kanka will happen right here in Santa Clarita.

Without comprehensive and thoughtful policy change, we are on a trajectory for tragedy at the hands of someone our politicians failed to have the courage to incarcerate until fully remediated.

Jonathan Kraut is a Fair Oaks Ranch resident and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV, on the SCV Human Relations Forum and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.

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