There is a new push in New Jersey to tighten restrictions and make penalties
more severe for those convicted of
sexual assault against a minor.
Our state is one of the six that hasn't adopted the so-called Jessica's Law.
The law mandates a sentence of 25 years in prison, without the possibility
of parole, for all those convicted of aggravated sexual assault against
a child under the age of 13. The same penalty would apply to those convicted
of aggravated sexual assault against an older child if the assailant uses
a weapon or is a relative, in a supervisory position, or is the child's guardian.
In addition, the law would impose strict sanctions against those who impede
either the arrest or conviction of a sex offender. They would face a mandatory
sentence, too, of from one to three years in prison.
Mark Lunsford, the father of Jessica Lunsford, the girl Jessica's Law
was named after, has been urging New Jersey legislators to adopt the law.
Lunsford argues that the provision to penalize those who help sex offenders
elude law enforcement is necessary because the roommates of the man who
killed his daughter lent him assistance.
Earlier this week, Lunsford participated in a State House news conference
with legislators urging their colleagues to increase punishment of sex
"It's amazing to me that we haven't passed this law,"
said Sen. Diane Allen.
In several states that have adopted the law, the harsher measures have
had a mixed result. Sex offenders who are out on parole in states such
as California are required to wear GPS devices, but the cost of monitoring
the offenders has proven high though not particularly effective.
Other aspects of the law include tight restrictions on where sex offenders
can live; again a punishment that is a double-edged sword in the sense
that it forces many paroled offenders into homelessness.
While harsh measures sound attractive politically, they need to be thoughtfully
considered rather passed in an emotional reaction against the offenders.
Resource: phillyburbs.com: "Bill aims to toughen laws against child sex offenders":
March 22, 2011