Thursday, January 30, 2014

NJ - Allen wants tougher penalties for child sex offenders

Sen. Diane Allen & Mark Lunsford
Sen. Diane Allen & Mark Lunsford
Original Article


By David Levinsky

TRENTON - State Sen. Diane Allen first introduced New Jersey’s Jessica Lunsford Act in June 2005, a few months after the 9-year-old Florida girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender.

In the ensuing years, Allen has reintroduced the measure every two years at the kickoff of a new legislative session, only to see it fall short of being signed into law.

This January marked the sixth time she has introduced the bill. She’s hoping it will be the last time.

As you all know, Jessica was kidnapped, raped and buried alive back in 2005. Since then, I’ve had a bill in (the Legislature) to change many aspects of our law so we can make sure this kind of thing cannot happen to any children in New Jersey,” Allen said Thursday during a hearing on the latest version of the bill before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
- 10 million laws will not prevent another tragedy like this.  You are, in our opinion, just exploiting children, fear and Mr. Lunsford for your own political gain.

Unfortunately, we’re now one of only five states that haven’t passed any Lunsford laws,” she said during the hearing, the first by the panel of the new legislative session.

The new version of the bill seeks to impose a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison for anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child under age 13, except in certain circumstances of a negotiated plea agreement.

Current law permits a 10- to 20-year prison sentence for the crime.

Allen said the plea agreement clause was added at the behest of state prosecutors, who argued that there are some occasions when it’s in the best interest of the victims to permit a negotiated plea deal. In those cases, the bill allows an offender to be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

The new bill also excludes previous language mandating that anyone found guilty of harboring an offender or hindering the arrest or conviction of a sex offender would face a mandatory sentence of six months in prison without the possibility of parole. Allen plans to introduce a separate bill with that penalty.

Frankly, it’s a watered-down version. It is not the one the committee chairman (Donald Norcross, D-5th of Camden) was looking for or what I was looking for. But it is a start,” Allen said during the hearing.

Also testifying in favor of the measure was Gregory Quinlan of the New Jersey Family Policy Council. He pointed to a recent state auditor's report that said many New Jersey parole officers were failing to maintain regular contact with sex offenders they are assigned to supervise, including some convicts marked for mandatory parole supervision.

This is why this (bill) is so important,” Quinlan said. “I just want to see this passed.”
- So how would passing this law fix what you mentioned above?  It won't!

There has been some progress in moving the measure forward. During the last session, two versions of the bill were approved by the Senate and Assembly, but the chambers failed to approve a single bill with the same language.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee voted 5-0 on Thursday to release the measure from the committee. Norcross said he hoped it could be fast-tracked through the Senate.

This is why we put this bill No. 1 on our 216th legislative agenda,” he said.

Allen, who hosted Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, during a Statehouse news conference in 2011 to advocate for the bill, said New Jersey has waited too long to put the bill’s child protection measures into law.
- When Jessica went missing it was said child porn was found on Mr. Lunsfords computer, and his own son molested a child but got a slap on the wrist.

There is little as heinous as the sexual assault of a child, and it’s time we send a message that those types of monstrous actions are going to be punished severely,” she said. “Those vile enough to commit this type of a crime once should never be afforded the opportunity to put a second child and family through a similar tragedy.”
- So why isn't your own son, and possibly you, in prison then?


Anonymous said...

Florida lists sex offenders who move out of state. Even if a sex offender just spends 2 days on vacation in Fla, they have to remain on Florida's registry till a year after they die. That is no joke, Florida keeps sex offenders on the registry until a year after they die. So, if you live in a state like Minnesota or Washington that only posts the highest risk offenders online, don't vacation in Florida for even a single second. I have no idea how states can constitutionally enforce laws on people who have left- that is anybody's guess. I don't know how many states keep people on their online registry if they leave the state- I'd assume most states just delete the offender's profile if they move somewhere else, but who knows.

Anonymous said...

One thing I find rather interesting about continuing to list out of state sex offenders (even if you leave aside the fact that it bloats the registry) is that doing so discourages sex offenders from leaving the state. As often as not, state legislators or city/county officials will openly admit that at least part of the reason they're passing the new residency restriction or "tough on the pervs" policy is because they're trying to drive sex offenders out of the state or local area. However, since Florida and Wisconsin post out of state sex offenders, that takes away a lot of the motivation for those states' sex offenders to move to a state like Washington or Minnesota where they could live in relative anonymity and find employment and avoid harassment a lot more easily (with only the police aware of their whereabouts and addresses.) If someone in the Florida or Wisconsin legislature points out one of these days that taking out of state offenders off the website might encourage the sex offenders to move somewhere else that doesn't publicize all offenders, I wonder if Florida and Wisconsin would stop listing out of state offenders. It's not like there'd be thought much point in a sex offender moving from Florida to Minnesota right now since they could still be found by any of their new neighbors on the Florida sex offender site, but if Fla stopped listing out of state offenders that might encourage sex offenders to leave.

Sex Offender Issues said...

Even when you die they leave you on the list.

eAdvocate said...

The author of this article has not done his homework, as written he indicates "sex offenders" as if to say "All sex offenders would be denied," however that is incorrect. Certain future sex offenders would be denied as the bill is not retroactive.

Watchdog said...

I bet if anyone was convicted prior to this they will still be denied, watch and see.

Anonymous said...

I'm not on food stamps, nor am I even on the sex offender registry. I'm just on this website because I get tired of sex offender pandering politicians, even though neither me or anybody in my family or friends is on the registry. They already deny food stamp benefits to drug offenders. This is thought to lead the drug criminals back into crime because if you can't provide food for your family that makes selling drugs a lot more attractive. At least this bill also included murderers- it's not like it singled out sex offenders for a change. Hell, that's interesting this bill isn't retroactive like 99.9% of sex offender bills are. By lottery winners would that be including people who have won small lotteries that don't pay out that much (as in scratchoff lotteries paying out $5), or is that just $1 million + lotteries? Since lottery winners are notoriously bad at managing their money, there are probably plenty of people who won $5 million lotteries who are on food stamps too.

Chance_X74 said...

As we've seen many times before, they will just argue that the Farm Bill is civil as opposed to criminal and thus, because protections against retroactivity only apply to criminal law, such protections do not apply.

Kevin said...

Your argument makes sense only if registration is intended to be non-punitive. If the legislatures of FL and WI truly believed that their registries were only meant to protect the citizens of their states then if an offender moved out of state, that offender would no longer pose a threat to their state and should be removed from their registry. Since this is not the case, my only conclusion is that the legislatures of FL and WI intend (at least partially) for their states' registries to be a form of punishment that sticks with you wherever you go. It is extremely unlikely to me that FL and WI register out-of-state offenders because they are interested in protecting the citizens of other states.