Lunsford Act held from a vote

TRENTON – A bill that calls for mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years to life for people convicted of sexually assaulting children was held from a vote on the Assembly floor.

The Jessica Lunsford Act, A2027, didn’t come up for a vote Thursday during the Assembly voting session. It’s sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21.)

The bill would impose the mandatory prison term against anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a minor under the age of 13. The proposal would also impose mandatory prison terms on people convicted of harboring or concealing another person who is required to register under Megan’s Law.

Munoz said following the session that the bill was held in order to “make the bill even better,” explaining language is expected to be added to the proposal that would prevent children from being required to testify against the accused perpetrator.

“We don’t want to make them a victim a second time,” Munoz said. “We want to make sure that we do it right and do the best thing to protect the children and get these predators off the street.”

Munoz also said updated language will include longer jail sentences for perpetrators who take plea deals.

The bill is now expected to come to the Assembly floor by the end of the year, she said.

Senate lawmakers unanimously passed the bill earlier this month.

In September, Gov. Chris Christie was asked at a town hall meeting whether he would consider signing off on such legislation.

“If they send it to my desk … I’ve got a feeling I’ll put my signature on it,” Christie said during the Ocean City town hall.

The bill is modeled on legislation enacted in Florida. It’s named after Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a registered sex offender.

Lunsford Act held from a vote