By Bill Mooney
TRENTON - The Senate version of a bill mandating minimum prison terms for those who sexually assault a child has been reintroduced and will be before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday.
One of the prime co-sponsors, Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., said earlier this month he was dissatisfied with amendments to the bill on the Assembly side last legislative session, and he had said he would bring back what he feels is the tougher version this session.
S215 (PDF), whose prime co-sponsors include Sens. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park and Steve Oroho, (R-24), Sparta, would mandate a minimum prison term of 25 years.
The bill also would include hindering apprehension as a fourth-degree crime punishable by a mandatory minimum of six months to a maximum of 18 months.
The Senate passed its version in October 2012, but following that the Assembly proposal was amended as it worked its way through the committee process, according to Kean. The minimum prison term was reduced from 25 to 15 years, and the hindering provision was eliminated.
The bill is dubbed the “Jessica Lunsford Act,’’ in memory of a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a registered sex offender.