Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove today hailed the passage of the Jessica Lunsford Act (S-380/S-642) by the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee. Connors, Rumpf and Gove are co-sponsors of the legislation which is named for Jessica Lunsford, the Florida girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a sex offender, and is modeled on legislation which was enacted by the State of Florida.
In mid-March, the 9th District Delegation started an online petition drive through their legislative website calling for legislative action to be taken on the Jessica Lunsford Act and other sex offender legislation.
Under the Legislation released by the Committee, mandatory terms of imprisonment would be imposed on persons convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. The person would be sentenced to a specific term of years fixed by the court, which would be between 25 years and life imprisonment, of which the person must serve 25 years before being eligible for parole. Under existing law, a person is guilty of aggravated sexual assault, a crime of the first degree, if he commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim under the age of 13. A crime of the first degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 to 20 years or a fine of up to $200,000 or both.
Following the Committee’s release of the Jessica Lunsford Act, the 9th District Delegation made the following remarks:
“Our Delegation wholeheartedly supports the Jessica Lunsford Act as a comprehensive effort to expand protections under State law for children and communities as a whole. Strengthening penalties for sexual predators as provided for under this legislation would only further serve the very intent of Megan’s Law by ensuring the punishment fits the heinous nature of the crime.
“By any measure, there is strong support among residents living in the 9th Legislative District for instituting additional safeguards in our judicial system in which law enforcement and the courts can treat sexual offenders in a manner fitting to the danger they represent to the community. Mandatory sentencing is absolutely appropriate and necessary when considering the nature of recidivism that is more common with this form of crime is committed against the most vulnerable persons – our children.
“Our Delegation has a long standing track record of working closely with local governing bodies and community activists on this important public safety issue. Nearly a decade ago, we worked with members of the Beachwood Governing Body to develop legislation to prohibit sexual offenders from living near schools or day care centers. More recently, we worked with residents in Galloway Township in petitioning the Legislature to post the Jessica Lunsford Act and other sexual offender legislation for Committee consideration.”
The 9th District Legislators are the prime sponsors of legislation that would prohibit a convicted sex offender from residing within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground or child care center. Additionally, they are the prime sponsors of the legislation that would require sex offenders be tiered (determination of risk for re-offense) prior to their release from prison.