Jessica Lunsford Act Passes Unanimously Out of Senate Committee
The proposed law must now go before a full vote of the assembly, and Brian Rumpf hopes that will happen later this month.
Assemblyman Brian Rumpf called it a “good first step, but there’s still work to do,” following the passage of the Jessica Lunsford Act (S-380/S-642) by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday, June 4. The committee passed the two bills with a unanimous 5-0 vote, according to the Ninth District Legislative Office.
The bills must now go before the state senate as a whole for a vote. Rumpf said he hopes that since the bill moved through the committee in the beginning of the month, it would go before the Senate by the end of June, and that the bill in the Assembly could move at the same pace. Assembly bill A-2027 is essentially the same bill as S642.
S380, whose sponsors include Senators Chris Connors and Jeff Van Drew, among others, concerns the "sentencing of sex offenders and persons who harbor them; requires electronic monitoring for certain sex offenders and creates child protection zones."
S642 proposes enactment of the Jessica Lunsford Act, which imposes mandatory term of 25 years to life for aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13 and increases penalties for harboring certain sex offenders.
Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered by a registered sex offender in 2005. Lunsford was from Florida, and many states have enacted “Jessica’s Law” since. New Jersey is one of the few remaining that has not.
“This is something we’ve been in favor of for a long time,” Galloway Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said Monday afternoon.
Galloway resident Anna Jezycki has been vocal about this issue, jumpstarting two separate letter writing campaigns to all the state's municipalities and confronting the delegation from the Ninth District, made up of Connors, Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, during a town hall meet and greet earlier this year.
In March, the Ninth District Delegation began on online petition drive through its website calling for action on this act, as well as other legislation related to sex offenders.
“Our Delegation wholeheartedly supports the Jessica Lunsford Act as a comprehensive effort to expand protections under State law for children and communities as a whole. Strengthening penalties for sexual predators as provided for under this legislation would only further serve the very intent of Megan’s Law by ensuring the punishment fits the heinous nature of the crime,” the Ninth District Delegation said in a statement issued following Monday’s vote. “By any measure, there is strong support among residents living in the Ninth Legislative District for instituting additional safeguards in our judicial system in which law enforcement and the courts can treat sexual offenders in a manner fitting to the danger they represent to the community. Mandatory sentencing is absolutely appropriate and necessary when considering the nature of recidivism that is more common with this form of crime is committed against the most vulnerable persons, our children.
“Our Delegation has a long standing track record of working closely with local governing bodies and community activists on this important public safety issue. Nearly a decade ago, we worked with members of the Beachwood Governing Body to develop legislation to prohibit sexual offenders from living near schools or day care centers. More recently, we worked with residents in Galloway Township in petitioning the Legislature to post the Jessica Lunsford Act and other sexual offender legislation for Committee consideration.”