TRENTON – A bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers introduced legislation this week they say seeks to strengthen state laws surrounding the supervision of sex offenders.
The bill, S2636, would revise certain provisions of Megan’s Law and impose monthly penalties on sex offenders in order to fund their monitoring and supervision by the parole board.
The legislation’s prime sponsors are Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sens. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), and Kevin O’Toole, (R-40).
The bill makes several revisions to Megan’s Law, which provides for the registration of sex offenders and notification to the community of their whereabouts.
According to the proposal, the bill would upgrade a sexual assault to aggravated sexual assault when the victim has an intellectual or permanent physical disability; prohibit certain sex offenders who have demonstrated repetitive and compulsive behavior from keeping their name off the Internet sex offender registry; and enable a person given Community Supervision for Life and who commits another offense to be upgraded to Parole Supervision for Life.
The bill’s sponsors say the revisions will “arm our law enforcement” with the proper skills and training to properly monitor sex offenders.
“Nineteen years ago, when Megan’s Law was initially established here in New Jersey, it would have been impossible to predict modern advances in technology from the commonplace of cell phones and tablets to the widespread availability of Wi-Fi,” Greenstein said.
“With these technological advances come new concerns for our children’s safety,” she said. “Parents must now be vigilant against sexual predators both when their children are outside and inside the home, because luring and sexual advances can happen on computers and phones in living rooms and bedrooms.”
Sweeney stressed the importance of revising current statute as technology changes and the state’s sex offender registry grows.
“As the sex offender registry continues to grow and as technology continues to change, we must update our laws to ensure that law enforcement has the resources necessary to successfully monitor those on the registry and to address new threats to our children,” he said.
O’Toole echoed similar comments.
“This measure empowers New Jersey’s parole officers to defend families from the most cowardly society of perpetrators, who try to use the secrecy of the internet to stalk innocent children,” he said. “These predators feed off each other, sharing new tactics and using advancing technologies. We must ensure that going forward our law enforcement officers are as best prepared as possible.”
The bill would also provide that a juvenile who has committed a “sexting” offense would not be required to register as a sex offender. Sexting is the act of creating, exhibiting or distributing nude photographs through an electronic communication device such as a cell phone or computer.
It has been referenced to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee