ANNAPOLIS - Legislation increasing the minimum prison sentence imposed on a convicted child sex offender has been given preliminary approval by the Senate.
A final vote is expected next week.
Under the Senate version, child predators would face 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole or good-time credits. It applies to second-degree rape or molestation convictions. First-degree rape carries a 25-year sentence.
The December murder of 11-year-old Sara Foxwell on the Eastern Shore by a registered sex offender prompted lawmakers to scrutinize all of Maryland's child sex offender laws.
- People who murder anybody, child or adult, should be in prison until the day they die.
Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, was raped and murdered by a child sex offender, traveled from Florida to Maryland a few weeks ago to lend his support.
- And did he mention his own son, who molested a child as well? I'm sure he forgot that part!
Conservative radio talk shows in Baltimore targeted committee Chairman Sen. Brian Frosh (Email), who took his time in vetting the bill before sending it to the Senate floor.
"The existing law has never been used -- the mandatory minimum. This is more of a bumper sticker than a bill," he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Madaleno (Email) said he felt pressure, too, after asking for a one-day delay in the vote. He said he had questions he didn't want to bring up in front of children in the Senate gallery.
The measure was sponsored by Harford County Republican Sen. Nancy Jacobs (Email) and has generated discussion on the bill's language and who makes the call to seek the new mandatory minimum.
Several sex offender bills have already passed both chambers. Frosh said he considers them substantial.
"We have lifetime supervision. We've got civil commitment in the Senate bill. That stuff's effective," he said.
- Effective how?