Relevant Legislation

The Justice System Fails Us Once Again

John Gardner

After Gardner’s release from only five years in prison where he was charged with molesting and assaulting a minor in 2000, two years later John Gardner was discovered to be illegally living half a mile from a daycare center. Instead of being thrown back in jail for violation of parole, he remained free.  Gardner violated his parole at least five other times, his last encroachment happened less than 3 weeks before his parole supervision ended and his GPS bracelet removed from his ankle. If the law officials did their job and thrown this sex offender back in jail where he belonged, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois would still be alive and getting on with their lives.


The incompetent decision to keep this predator on the streets to terrorize our children is a clear indication that our justice system is not equipped to protect the public from sex offenders.  A psychiatrist who wrote up the probation report on Gardner’s decade old molestation case implored the court that the defendant had "significant predatory traits" toward underage girls and should be kept in prison for as long as possible.  But the D.A. decided to plea-bargain and reduced Gardner’s sentence as long as his victim did not have to testify. Consequently, the D.A.’s outrageous decision to put a dangerous sex offender back on the streets after only 5 years of prison time has resulted in the death two young women as well as an unknown number of victims of attempted sexual assault.



The statistics of sex crimes in the United States are shocking and undeniably disturbing.  For instance, there are currently over 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and the number of predators that fall through the cracks is unknown. According to the National Alert Registry, over 2,000 children are reported missing every day, and there is a one out of three chance that a child will become a victim of a sexual predator.  Eight out of ten rapists are released prior to trial, and 61% of violent sex offenders have a prior record.  These numbers are compelling, and it is clear that the justice system is not doing a good enough job from protecting its citizens from sexual predators.  As a law-abiding tax payer and the mother of two kids, these statistics are not only frightening, but they are appalling. But before we can see any drastic reduction in sex crimes across the United States, our laws must significantly change to enforce that convicted predators are sentenced to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.  Every time a sex offender is placed back into the folds of society, the system is endangering another child’s life.


The United States probation system acts as a revolving door for sexual predators because these criminals have the highest rate of committing the offense over and over again.  They are legally allowed to reside in neighborhoods forcing families to live in fear that one of their own will fall victim to the offender’s sick and twisted aggression.  The legal system is far too lenient when sentencing sex offenders and instead of severe punishment, their prison sentences are shortened after they have gone through a rehabilitation program that rarely cures their sexually deviant behavior.  They are let back out on the streets to act out their violent behavior again and again.



Sex offenders should be punished harshly with a “first strike you’re out” policy that will never allow these criminals out in public again.  The first time they are caught and proven guilty of a sex crime, they should be thrown behind bars for life.  Some experts suggest chemical castration where the criminal is injected once a month with Depo-Provera, a drug which reduces testosterone levels and sexually fantasies.  Chemical Castration therapy is said to cause the rate of relapse to fall to 5%.  But the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including anti-androgen drugs for sex offenders, arguing that forced chemical castration is a "cruel and unusual punishment".  What is cruel and unusual punishment is allowing these monsters to walk free and put women and children at risk.



At the end of the day the law needs to change on how sex offenders are punished for their crimes, but as any political and controversial subject is handled, mounds of red tape, bureaucratic indecision, interference from groups such as the ACL and lack of support from the public will surely prevent law reform to happen any time soon.   What this means is that we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our children from these predators.  Unfortunately, it took the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois to cause us to snap back into painful reality and realize the world is not safe, and we need to seriously teach our children how to protect themselves from becoming a victim.  There are many free self defense clinics across the country, which specifically teach teenage girls how to fight back and escape from a sexual predator.  Academic institutions ranging from elementary to high school should conduct mandatory self defense workshops for each and every grade level.  Young girls in particular should always walk or exercise with a buddy, keep the iPod home, have the cell phone on, carry a pepper spray and be distinctly aware of their surroundings.  All girls should be taught to NEVER talk to strangers or accept a ride from someone they don’t know really well.


This may sound a bit angry but women need to get their head out of the clouds and stop thinking that bad things just don’t happen to them.  Here are five simple rules to follow:


1.   Don’t walk around distracted and unfocused (i.e. rummaging through a handbag for keys).  Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone or listening to an iPod.


2.   Walk tall with confidence, your head held high and your shoulders up to elude a “don’t mess with me” attitude.


3.   Avoid walking alone, especially in isolated and dark places.  If you must take a remote path, be sure to carry a personal alarm, a working cell phone, and a flashlight if it is in the evening.  In addition….


4.   Carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, mace, TASER or stun gun.  These are very effective self defense tools that are legal in most states and will give you a strong advantage when confronted with a threatening situation.


5.   When going out to a social event, do not leave your drink unattended, or allow someone you don’t know that well to get you one.  Do not drink from an open punch bowl while at a party or have someone make you a drink without you watching.  Date rape drugs are becoming very popular, especially among the college crowd, and they work very fast to disorient and confuse the victim.  Date rape drugs have no color, no smell and no taste and can knock a person out for as long as 3 or 4 hours.  To learn more about date rape drugs, visit www.womenshealth.gov. 



If you believe you are a victim of date rape, please do not shower, urinate, douche, brush your teeth, eat or drink or change your clothes.  Have a trusted friend or relative drive you to the hospital to request a urine test.  Date rape drugs leave the body very quickly, and it is absolutely imperative you are tested right away. The hospital will also use a rape kit to collect evidence.  Most importantly, make sure you call 911 at the hospital and tell the police everything you remember.  Please believe that being raped is NOT your fault and the more information you can disclose, the better chance the police will have to catch the predator and save another person from being a victim.

Remember that sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes, and there is a good chance that you may even know one.  The key is to be aware, to stay protected, and to not take any situation for granted by letting your guard down for a minute.  Sexual assault can happen with a blink of an eye, but if you are mentally prepared to face any given circumstance, chances are you will come out of it safe and a stronger person than before.

Two Missing Teens end in Tragedy

Chelsea King My heart goes out to Chelsea King's and Amber Dubois' family for the devastating loss of their beautiful daughters whose lives were snuffed out much too soon. Chelsea was an honor student at Poway High and a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony. She was a cross country runner, a talented musician and well liked among her peers. Chelsea was in the midst of choosing a college after her graduation in May of this year but suddenly, she was gone. One day after school Chelsea decided to take a run alone on the trails of Rancho Bernardo Community Park near Lake Hodge. A few days ago, the search ended tragically when Chelsea's body was found in a shallow grave by Lake Hodges.

Amber_dubois On February 13, 2009 Fourteen year old Amber Dubois was on her way to school to exchange Valentine Day gifts with her friends. Amber was also excited to pay for a baby lamb through her school's Future Farmers of America program. She was last seen at around 7:00am only a block from Escondido High School. A little over a year later just days after finding Chelsea King's body, remains of Amber's body were identified in an isolated area of Pala. Her grieving parents suffered a year of not knowing whether their precious child would come home dead or alive. Today, Amber can finally be put to rest, and her parents can finally have closure.

John Gardner Registered sex offender John Gardner has been officially charged with Chelsea's murder, and he is also possibly being linked to Amber's case. Gardner pleaded guilty for child molestation in 2000 and received a maximum of 11 years. He only received 6, even though court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Cowell who interviewed Gardner, urged that the sex offender receive the maximum sentence allowed by law. Court documents reveal that Dr. Cowell reported Gardner was a "continued danger to underage girls in the community" and an "extremely poor candidate" for treatment. It is shocking that the Judge shortened this monster's sentence despite the foreboding warning that he will commit more crimes against girls.

What is wrong with our justice system today where we let known sex offenders back on the streets to abduct, rape or murder another child? Does anyone in the District Attorney's office have daughters of their own? How would they feel if they had to experience the horrific pain and devastation of losing a child to a sexual predator who was let back out on the streets due to parole? What would they do if their daughter went missing and had to spend agonizing and gut-wrenching days waiting to hear if their little girl was found alive or dead?

The laws for convicted sex offenders must change. First time sex offenders should NEVER be released from prison but should be given the death penalty if proven guilty. It is a known fact that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated, and they are a threat to society no matter how much therapy they receive. To allow these vicious animals back into society so that they can prey on another innocent child is the same as giving permission for the criminal to do so. Forcing sex offenders to register their address and information apparently doesn't do any good. Neighbors of Gardner's parents had no idea that a child molester was living right next door to them, because many times, the information on these sex offenders are often not available or inaccurate.

In light of the tragic loss of Chelsea and Amber, I hope deaths are not in vain and that their murders will invoke changes in the law on the sentencing of sex offenders. It's a terrible shame that we had to lose two beautiful children to serve as a wake up call that just because a sex offender is "registered," it does not make us any more safe from the predator's sick and twisted thoughts and actions. There is no cure that will take away a sex offender's urge to perform unspeakable acts against humanity. Why in God's name do we give these deranged fiends any rights at all to live among society and give them another opportunity to brutally hurt and possibly kill another human being?

It is also grossly unfair for the justice system to allow such scum to walk our streets to yet again to act out their evil and twisted behavior on our children. If the law doesn't change to reflect the horrendous aspects of child molestation, rape and murder, then we as citizens of the United States should have our constitutional right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our family from these predators.

My final thought on the shocking deaths of these two girls is that as parents, we need to do a better job in protecting our children against violent crimes. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and believe that this could never happen to my daughter. But it did -- twice that we know of and who knows the countless other missing girls we still haven't found with their parents holding on to a glimmer of hope that their chld will come home alive. We need to educate our children of the dangers of walking alone and the risks of talking to strangers. Our children need to be taught effective self defense techniques so they have a fighting chance to get away. Children love to scream while playing, and they need to know to use their vocal cords the same way in times of danger. Our children need to be armed with a personal alarm that they can set off if a predator tries to abduct them. Rapists do not like attention drawn to them, and the loud shrill of an alarm or whistle may scare them off before any harm is done. Teenagers are responsible enough to carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or Mace as another tool to fight back if faced with a dangerous situation. Lastly, children must be taught to always be aware of their surroundings and to avoid listening to their music devices, texting or talking on a cell phone while they are out and about. Distractions are their worst enemy and sex offenders seek out potential victims who are not paying attention.

I wish you and yours a very safe 2010 and that you never have to experience the heartbreaking loss in which Chelsea's and Amber's parents are going through right now. I will not suggest that I have any idea of how the King and Dubois family are coping with their unimaginable situation, but we pray that they will somehow find the strength to carry on through their daughters' spirits and the memory of how their lives touched so many people.