June 5, 2012

Jessica Lunsford Act gets out of Senate committee

6-5-2012 New Jersey:

The Jessica Lunsford Act, co-sponsored by 9th District Sen. Christopher J. Connors, was passed by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Monday, June 4.

Connors, along with 9th District Assembly members Brian E. Rumpf and DiAnne C. Gove, hailed the passage of the legislation named for Jessica Lunsford, a Florida girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a sex offender.

The law is modeled on legislation which was enacted by Florida.

In mid-March, the 9th District Delegation started an online petition drive through their legislative website, district9.senatenj.com, calling for legislative action to be taken on the Jessica Lunsford Act as well as 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.

Local resident Anna Jezycki joined the delegation in praising the action.

“I’m ecstatic that it got that far,” said Jezycki, who heads the local group, Communities United for Family Safety. “It’s never gotten this far before. It’s just mulled around.”

The CUFFS leader said she is still waiting to see what happens.

“It’s in limbo,” Jezycki said. “We’re tracking it. I’m hopeful.”

She said the assistant majority leader, Sen. Donald Norcross, supports the bill.

Leaving committee it must still be put up for a vote by the full Senate.

“Sen. Norcross favors it,” Jezycki said. “I think he’s going to do it – put it up for a vote.”

Similar legislation in the Assembly remains in committee.

The bill would have to pass both houses to become law.

Under existing law, a crime of the first degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 to 20 years, a fine of up to $200,000 or both.

The state legislators for Galloway and Port Republic in Atlantic County issued a statement Monday.

“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,” it reads. “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.”

The delegation said it has a long track record of working closely with local governing bodies and community activists on the 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,” the release goes on. “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 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. They are also prime sponsors of legislation that would require sex offenders be tiered – a determination of risk for re-offense – prior to release from prison. ..Source.. by Steve Prisament

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