In an effort to advance several legislative initiatives which would enhance the state’s existing sexual offender laws, 9th District Legislators Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove have launched an online petition drive for concerned constituents to sign and have a stronger voice in the legislative process.
Residents can sign the petition online at the 9th District Delegation’s legislative website: http://district9.senatenj.com/jessicas-law/
The petition centers on the Jessica Lunsford Act, also known as Jessica’s Law, which would increase penalties for those who commit sex crimes against minors and for those who harbor or conceal a sex offender. Connors, Rumpf and Gove are cosponsors of pending legislation that would enact the Jessica Lunsford Act in New Jersey.
Additional legislation addressed in the petition would prohibit convicted sexual offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and child care centers, as well as to properly “tier” sex offenders prior to their release from prison. Each of these measures were introduced and have been sponsored by the 9th District Delegation for several legislative sessions and, presently, are also awaiting committee action.
The 9th District Delegation offered the following remarks regarding the petition drive:
“Residents are frustrated with what they see as a lack of action and direction by the Legislature on comprehensive initiatives to more effectively protect our children from potential acts of violence committed by sexual predators. We understand and share this frustration as, for years, our Delegation has worked closely with residents, local officials and law enforcement in a united effort to build upon the protections presently offered under Megan’s Law including community notification.
“As an example, several years ago law enforcement officials advised our Delegation about the difficulty in tracking convicted sex offenders, given their transient nature, once they are released from incarceration. A contributing factor to this problem is that, under current law, sex offenders are tiered only after they have been released from prison. A sex offender’s residency situation factors into what tiering they receive. As a practical solution, our Delegation introduced legislation that would require sexual offenders to be tiered while still incarcerated.
“A State Supreme Court decision handed down in 2009 that invalidated several local sexual offender residency ordinances seems to have brought any further action on major policy initiatives concerning sexual offenders to a standstill in the Legislature. Prior to this, several bipartisan bills were passed by the Legislature and enacted into law that included enhancing penalties for sex offenders who provided false addresses when registering as well as satellite monitoring for certain sex offenders.
“Starting an online petition drive is an effective grass roots means of demonstrating the level of public support or opposition for a specific policy initiative. Moreover, it will allow residents to play a more active role in the legislative process on an issue that is important to so many parents.”