Trenton Musings: Jessica Lunsford Act – Pass it Already!

Jessica Lunsford Act – Pass it Already!

February 15, 2013

The Jessica Lunsford Act is one of the toughest child predator laws in the nation. In most cases, it keeps children safer, keeping child predators behind bars for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 yrs.; followed by life-time GPS monitoring or a maximum of life in prison for first-time child sex offenders. Since the original law was passed in Florida in 2005, the repeat offender rate has dropped from 34% to 2%1.

In 46 states now there is some form of this law instituting higher mandatory sentences. New Jersey is poised to become the 47th state, capping an effort that began seven years ago after 9-yr-old Jessica’s brutal torture, rape and death at the hands of a twice convicted and twice released sexual predator. We even have the votes to pass it. So, why hasn’t the NJ Legislature made it enough of a priority to pass it already and better protect our children here in NJ?

Click here to read the update and help it post for a vote now!…….

Your NJ Family Policy Council, NJ Family First, and Bill O’Reilly of FOX News “The O’Reilly Factor” – self-appointed watchdog for child protection – have been asking the same question for a few years now. Over the past six months, O’Reilly has used his national stoplight to step up his chastisement of our Democrat led Legislature, specifically chiding Senate President Sweeney (D) to post this bill for a vote. In fact, last night he addressed the subject again on his program.

Thanks to your support and our consistent efforts down in trenches with legislators in Trenton, the bill was passed out of the Senate in October 2012 as well as the Assembly Health Committee. It even made it to the full Assembly floor ready for passage, when at the last minute the prosecutor’s office stepped in asserting that the 25 yrs. to life sentence in the bill limited their “plea bargaining abilities” with regard to time behind bars. Greg Quinlan, Director of Government Affairs for NJ Family First, explains, “When a child is heinously victimized by a sexual predator, often times the child’s parents do not want their child to sit in a courtroom having to face the predator again. When this happens, to get a conviction of any substance, the prosecutor must plea bargain with the predator.” However, Quinlan points out, this can be resolved by having kids testify via closed caption, and they should not have to be in the same room with the perpetrator.

Nevertheless, NJ Family First has worked with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) to amend the bill allowing prosecutors leeway to plea bargain for sentences under 25yrs. The current bill is now amended to a mandatory minimum of 15yrs. to life, and the votes are there to pass it both houses. Moreover, Quinlan has been promised – face-to-face – by Governor Christie that he will sign this bill into law once it reaches his desk.

Here’s how you can help get this passed: Click here to contact your state representatives: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp  Click on your town (your district is next to it), then on next page click your district No. and you will see your State Senator and Assemblymen information.

Keeping child predators behind bars for as long as possible is the best and surest way to protect our children. The philosophical basis of American law is that the punishment must fit the crime. If an adult rapes or molests a child, the child is altered forever, and some victims never recover. What fits the crime for anyone who rapes or sexually assaults a child is to forfeit (thereby altering forever) their right to freedom, period. Megan’s Law, which requires a published list of higher tier sex offenders is not working. A 2008 analysis of the law by a NJ Dept. of corrections researcher found that it had “no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses”.

The state should reallocate money currently used to attempt to rehabilitate repeat sex offenders, law enforcement costs to monitor and apprehend released offenders and court costs for re-offenses, to longer incarceration costs and more GPS monitoring. Our children deserve real protection and the long awaited passage of this law will finally give it to them.

———————-

1Jessica’s Law Initiative, National Federation of Republican Women, http://www.nfrw.org/documents/publications/jessica.pdf , p.1.