TRENTON – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee unanimously released two bills revising the “Jessica Lunsford Act” that calls for mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years to life of certain sex offenders.
The bills, S380 and S642, require that electronic monitoring for certain sex offenders take place and so-called child protection zones are created.
The bill requires electronic monitoring for sex offenders who prey on minors if the offender has been released on bail or from incarceration.
Also, the bill requires the Administrative Director of the Courts to establish and implement an electronic monitoring system using global positioning system technology for those individuals who have been charged with a sex offense as defined in Megan’s Law, where the victim is under age 18.
Republican Sen. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park, and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, (R-21), Summit, expressed strong support for the bill.
Mark Lunsford, father of Jessica, who was abducted, raped and killed, became emotional while testifying. He said the legislation is intended “to protect our children in the best way we can.”
New Jersey Family First and the League of American Families support the bill, as well.
“Twenty five years is not enough for monsters,” said Gregory Quinlan, who revealed he was sexually molested when he was a kid. “Pass this bill. It’s been too long.”
Ken Singer, a social worker with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, said the bill will not make the children safer, saying it will have “unintended consequences,” would not produce the remedies sought, and is based too much on emotion. He cited the Rockefeller drug laws in New York as an example, which, he said, actually caused drug use to spike.
He added the bill will produce increased costs to taxpayers due to mandatory sentencing that will produce longer jail terms.
The bill also requires lifetime tracking of such offenders upon their release from incarceration.
A person who fails to comply with the requirements of the electronic monitoring system would be guilty of a third-degree crime, and could go to prison for three to five years, be fined as much as $15,000, or both.
This bill also imposes increased penalties on persons who commit sex crimes against minors.
Under the bill, a person convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a minor under the age of 18 or the new crime of first-degree sexual assault of a minor under the age of 18 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.
Currently, a person who commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim under age 13 is guilty of aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 to 20 years, a fine of up to $200,000, or both. A person who commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who is between ages 13 and 15 under certain specified circumstances is also guilty of a first-degree crime. A person who commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who is at least age 16 but less than 18 under certain circumstances is guilty of sexual assault, a crime of the second degree (punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both).
In the bills released today by the Senate law committee, all of these acts would be punishable as first-degree crimes, with terms of imprisonment of 25 years to life.
The bill also increases the penalties for harboring or concealing a sex offender. Under the bill, a violation of hindering apprehension or prosecution would be considered a third-degree crime with a mandatory minimum term of two years without eligibility for parole if the person harbored or concealed a person who has been convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity for the commission of a sex offense.