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Jessica's Law Moves Out of Committee, Will Now Go For Second Reading

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee voted in favor of the bill, which proposes stricter punishment for child sex offenders, 5-0.

The Jessica Lunsford Act, which proposes stricter punishment for child sex offenders, moved out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with a 5-0 ‘yes’ vote on Thursday, Sept. 20. It will now move into second reading in the Senate.

The bill, S642/S380, proposes a mandatory term of 25 years to life for aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. The guilty party must serve 25 years of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

The bill also proposes increased penalties for harboring certain sex offenders, classifying this as a fourth degree crime subject to a minimum of six months in prison.

Currently, those found guilty of the crime, classified as first degree aggravated sexual assault, are sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison, a $200,000 fine or both.

Sen. Christopher J. Connors and Sen. Jeff Van Drew are among the sponsors of the senate bills. Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove are among the co-sponsors of identical legislation in the Assembly, A2027. That legislation was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee in January, but that committee has yet to consider the bill, according to the New Jersey Legislature’s website.

The Ninth District Delegation, made up of Connors, Rumpf and Gove and representing Galloway Township, released the following comments following the committee’s approval:

“Like many of our constituents who are advocating for strengthening the state’s sexual predator laws, we are elated by the Committee’s strong showing of support for enacting the Jessica Lunsford Act here in New Jersey.   The legislation’s release from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee represents a significant step forward, given the fiscal aspects of incarceration costs in relation to the sentencing provisions of the Jessica Lunsford Act.

“Given the unspeakable nature of these crimes, the sentencing called for under this legislation is appropriate and necessary in serving the interest of public safety.  Mandatory sentencing would take the worst offenders, who deliberately target the most vulnerable children, off our street to serve a sentence that could, very well, be for the rest of their lives.   Further, our Delegation strongly believes the sentencing enhancements would bring an added measure of justice to victims and their loved ones as well as to the community as a whole.   

“In an effort to advance the Jessica Lunsford Act through the legislative process, our Delegation started an online petition to allow concerned individuals the opportunity to participate in this effort.  Our Delegation had the petition, which has been signed by more than 250 people to date, entered into the official public record of testimony during the committee hearing to further demonstrate the level of public support for the Jessica Lunsford Act.”

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 have not.

In February, the Ninth District Delegation held a town hall meeting in Galloway Township, at which time resident Anna Jezycki confronted Connors, Gove and Rumpf as to why nothing had been done at that point to move the legislation forward in the state.

The delegation then started an online petition drive through their legislative website calling for legislative action to be taken on the Jessica Lunsford Act as well as other sex offender legislation. 

Jezycki was disappointed when, in 2009, the State Supreme Court invalidated a law that would allow municipalities to ban sex offenders from living within a designated distance of any school, park, playground, public library or daycare center.

Galloway Township previously had laws in place stating sex offenders can’t live within 2,500 feet of those types of areas, prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Connors, Rumpf and Gove are also the prime sponsors of legislation that would prohibit a convicted sex offender from living within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, or childcare center. 

Additionally, they are the prime sponsors of the legislation that would require sex offenders be classified as to their risk for re-offense prior to their release from prison.

Jim McElwee September 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Great Job Mrs.J. Everybody in Galloway knows the presure you and the CUFFS commitee put on legislators was key in getting this bill moved through commitee! Keep up the good work. Our children need advocates for their protection.
Freedom Avenger September 21, 2012 at 02:18 PM
250 signatures is support? Give me a break. You sheeple need to make sure these laws are for brutal assaults and residency restrictions ARE A MYTH. 95% of all sex offenses are committed by someone who knows the victim, a family member or trusted friend..... NOT THE BOOGEY MAN NEXT DOOR OR DOWN THE STREET. You are NO SAFER. Grow up and educate yourselves, morons.
Anthony Bellano (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 02:36 PM
FROM LANCE MARTINEZ: Here is where I am stymied. This act comes into play after the crime is committed and harm to the victim or victims by one or multiple assaults as reflected in the most recent Los Angeles Sheriff's department and the Los Angeles Boy Scouts of America reported by the press. A Child is not protected until after they have been egregiously offended. So now at the basic cost of 35,000 per individual offender annually seems fiscally irresponsible. I would think that a shorter prison time with sex offender therapy or 25 years unless the offender can evidence a willingness to return to society and not reoffend who can be monitored would make more sense. I fail to see how Jessica’s law is protecting any child from an undiscovered sexual predator and deviate sexual assault or harm. I don’t believe this has been well thought out and children are still not safe as these legislators predict.
ltm September 21, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Joshua, pedophilia is indeed disturbing to me. I was able to find any statistics supporting “4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime” in the BJS. Your information came from a November 16, 2003 BJS report (NCJ 198281). This is the year 2012. Data collection has much improved since 2003. It would be a mistake to think that this information is not biased. There is no time frame reference given - there is no pedophile reference given - there is no method given on how, when and where this information was compiled. There were no supporting statistics of the 15 states used in this information gathering that support the statement, “4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime”. Allow me to point out the BJS refers to sex crimes in general and not specifically pedofiles.
ltm September 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Joshua, I am sympathetic to your views. I am an old man who has beautiful adult children and grandchildren. I can only imagine how terribly terribly awful I would feel if they were sexually assaulted/molested etc. Please bear in mind before you throw the key away the key that ⅔ of the sex offender population are committed by members of a family member - for example, dads and moms, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and others children who can also be police officers, judges, clergy, children, local - state - and national legislators. I am more interested in rehabilitation versus incarceration. Not to mention the cost of locking a person up for 25 plus years at todays cost of 35,000 per year. I feel that the offender needs to be more financially productive and responsible to their victims, their community and the justice system for their crimes and be monitored on extended probation or parole depending on the severity of their offense. Perhaps lifetime for some and a reoffense a lifetime in solitary confinement perhaps. I do not feel that you or I necessarily have the answer to this issue but I feel a more responsible intelligent approach would serve us all seeking a better life than lock them up and throw away the key. No more said “Thank you very much” - Elvis
The One September 21, 2012 at 08:16 PM
The harsher the penalties, the less reporting you will see. In fact, between 2000 and 2012, the National Crime Victimization Surveys have shown non-reporting of sex crimes have gone up. Jessica's Flaw will increase it even more. Named laws are bad laws.
Lila Folster September 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I believe what The One is referring to Joshua, is that fact that the highest percentage of child molestations and rapes occur within the family. No laws in existence, including, but not limited to Jessica's Law, will solve this problem. It will only tighten the grip on those on the registry and totally ignores the source of the majority of sex crimes. There will continue to be children molested in their own homes (as I was by my own father for close to a decade) because they fear telling anyone, knowing it will lead to the break up of the family, losing their homes, having to change schools, because daddy will not be given any kind of treatment to help him. He will simply be taken from the home, leaving the family to struggle on their own. If there was a program in place to help these people before the abuse takes place, or at least early on, we would have hope of breaking the cycle. My father apologized and begged my forgiveness time after time, but truly had a problem, and I as a toddler in the beginning and later, as a young teen had no idea what to do.
ltm September 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Lila, I am so sorry to read about your ordeal with your father. It is shameful to suffer by the hands of another. Many women I have met claim that they were molested as children but never reported the abuse. I think men who were preyed upon as children never speak up but suffer that tragedy in other ways that are very sad. Have you ever been to the WAR site, You might want to see what these women are doing. Additionally there is a magazine published now and on Amazon.com that is called RSOA, I think. It might make for some interesting reading. By the way, It is noted that those persons men or women who take sex offender therapy generally have a better average of not re-offending as opposed to those who do not.
Lila Folster September 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Thank you Joshua, but I don't think my whole point was maintaining the relationship, as much as I was trying to get across the point that prevention would make far more sense than punishing someone after the fact, when someone has already been victimized. As it is right now, all therapists are required to report anyone who comes to them for help with these type of issues. The aftermath of that is the person who was seeking help will immediately be arrested and prosecuted for their thoughts as much as if they actually committed a crime. The chances of this person receiving any kind of treatment or counseling at that point is sketchy at best. There are very few jails or prisons that provide these services and anything that is offered tends to be upon release, in which the person is required to pay for these services themselves. The fact of the matter is, that once someone has been arrested for this type of crime, it pretty much nullifies their ability to get and keep a decent paying job, let alone try to pay for counseling or treatment sessions that run in the range of hundreds of dollars a week. It is an endless cycle that swallows up innocent victims in the process, not to mention it would be far more financially feasible to use prevention measures, rather than going straight to an extremely costly process of arrest, conviction and incarceration and upon release, tying the hands of the registrant to the point that they can never become a productive member of society. again.
Lila Folster September 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
It is painfully true Joshua.
Georgina Schaff September 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Right on! I was raised by a sex offender. My Dad had an affair with a niece and when she became pregnant they wanted to get married but couldn’t; he was unable to "claim" his son or the law would have taken the child and locked up my Dad. The 14 year old moved out of state with her son, Dad married later, had 3 children & Dad never "reoffended" because his interest was for one specific person but he would be LABELED for life. NOT ALL registered sex offenders are a danger to Society, get to know the person to find out if they are a threat, they are human beings who have paid for their "crime" and deserve a 2nd chance but are all given the label. I do not consider what my Dad did was a crime; I consider it none of your business! I lived, loved, and learned from Dad. My half- brother is now a part of our family and we are so happy to have another brother. Politicians are using a ruse to be “tough on crime” versus smart on crime to get your vote, create more jobs, and increase your taxes to prosecute and persecute this group. The REAL predators are hiding amongst all the camouflage of those who are of no danger to Society. All first time sexual offenses should receive Mandatory Confidential Family Sex Therapy to decide who is a real threat. Treatment versus punishment is key. Children want help to change the behavior of their loved one, or a 19 year old the right to love a 15 year old, not incarceration, loss of family and lifetime label!
ltm September 22, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Lila and Georgina, you both have made some terrific observations and made terrific clarifications on this multi faceted issue. It gives me comfort to know there are people that understand and appreciate that registered sex offenders are not all pedofiles. Because a person may be emotionally ill does not necessarily make them a criminal. Even John Couey is mentally challenged although his crime against Jessica was and is an awful crime but it does not represent the full range of sex offenses or offenders. And those like John Couey should remain confined permanently. No one can predict a first offense much less a second offense. Educating society may help them to recognize behavioral signs or incidents that need to be addressed before something goes totally haywire like John Couey.
Lila Folster September 22, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Thank you ltm. You are right, there are as many facets as there are individuals. Yes there are some who do need to be confined, that is a fact, especially in life threatening crimes. However, society at large needs to realize that all who wear the label are not the John Coueys of the world. Education and prevention is the key and far and away the ONLY way to interrupt the cycle and help prevent future victims.
Shelly Stow September 22, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Yes, Josh, that four times was part of a report, and has often been used out of context, as you have used it, to terrify people into thinking sex offender recidivism is high. It is not. Yes, felons who are not sex offenders do commit sex crimes four time less than sex offenders. Their recidivism is 1.32525% for sex crimes. Times that by four and you have about 5.3%. So what we know is that sex offenders rarely repeat sex crimes (5.3%). and non sex offender felons hardly ever do (1.3%)! The figures jibe with what is known about who does commit them, especially against children. 95% of new sexual offenses are committed by those who are not on any sex offender registry and are overwhelmingly those close to the children and a part of their everyday lives. Anthony's analysis, above, is spot on. These laws do not protect children.
ltm September 22, 2012 at 02:26 PM
You know, I wonder if The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee queried anyone other than lobbyists regarding this legislation? Exactly who are being represented in this legislation? It seems there might be considerable opposition to this legislation that targets a specific group of citizens and to whose benefit? The scary part about all of this kind of legislation is that YOU will be an unsuspecting target for some other legislators scope's cross hairs.
Shelly Stow September 22, 2012 at 02:50 PM
There is another aspect to this. Some therapists offer family reunification therapy in cases of incest, which, as many have noted, is the most frequent form of child abuse. It is not a option that everyone would choose; it requires much in the way of faith and of forgiveness and of love, but they are finding that it also offers the greatest pay-off in healing for the victims and for families. We must move away from a punitive system based on punishment after the fact, which is proven to benefit no one, and toward a system of education and prevention before hand to prevent new victims and meaningful, attainable re-entry and treatment programs for those who have already offended. This would benefit literally millions. The only ones left will be the few--and it is few--who either cannot or will not change, and they will be so much easier to identify and manage, either in or out of prison, when they are clearly identified and not hiding is the masses.
Lila Folster September 22, 2012 at 02:57 PM
That is the really sad part ltm, so many people don't realize that this type of legislation, if passed against one select group of people, is simply a prototype, leading to the inclusion of all citizens for one reason or another. It is based on fear and emotion, with no capability of creating safety for society and children, but no one seems to care at this point. We seem to operate solely on the premise that if it "saves one child, it is worth it". This sickens me in the sense that this theory simply ignores the MILLIONS of other children who are presently and in the future doomed to be victimized. The solution is so simple, but evidently doesn't satisfy the blood-lust of those who demand "tough on crime" legislation.
terry September 28, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Sen. Kean, Jr. stated they wanted bipartisan approval. There was NO FISCAL NOTE called for on this piece of legislation to which the reason was given that the taxpayers do not care about the costs. This is false. We currently have sufficient legislation that does keep the balance in our judicial system, & does not force the victim to testify. Mandatory minimum of 25 yrs at stake means there will be more trials where alleged victims will testify. i.e., a 15 yr old boy has sex with his soon to be 13 yr old girlfriend. He is incarcerated until 40. Upon release, he is on parole until at least 55 & has no skills to secure employment. He is forced to live off of the state, including his healthcare. Our legislators felt the judge would be able to address this issue, but they are wrong. The prosecutor's office decides which charges fit the alleged facts. Jessica's law removes the balance from our judicial system. More alleged victims will end up being re-victimized by the system. The testimony would become part of A PUBLIC RECORD. Trials cost the taxpayers a lot of money, as does 25 years mandatory incarceration (at approximately $38K/yr). If we stay with our current laws, the Judge does have the right to take into consideration specific circumstances like Romeo/Juliet, violent or no, probability of re-offense, treatment and rehabilitation, etc. In this way, there is a probability of the offender being able to change his life around & become a contributing member of society.
Jack Furlong September 28, 2012 at 12:01 PM
I commend everyone on the multiple threads above for having a civil discussion. Joshua, from a hard line starting point, you showed remarkable tact and openness in dealing with responses. Couple of points to keep everyone on balance: 1. No one supports child sex offending; it's a matter of the most effective way to prevent it that separates us. 2. Statistics are hard to come by, hard to digest, and hard to trust (Mark Twain: "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.") The BJS stats are indeed misleading, because they compared sex offending prisoners to non-sex offending prisoners and found the sex offenders were more likely than the drug dealers, to commit another sex offense. The study wasn't flawed, but the import of the stats was misunderstood. Google Philip Witt, PhD or Fred Berlin, PhD, MD to get links to their studies for more accessible info. 3. Current criminal laws do not differentiate between child sex offenders, incest offenders, teenaged boyfriend/girlfriend cases. Senator Inverso was shocked to find out the Megan's Law he sponsored required a 15 year old in his district to register for life. There's always a hammer to a thumb tack aspect to these bills. It is also true that 95% of all sex crime victims know their abusers. This is what drives failure to report. 4. Sexually Violent Predators are warehoused after completion of their criminal sentences in Rahway at a cost of $110,000/yr. The truly dangerous are not let out. Thanks.
ltm September 28, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I am sure I speak for everyone, when I say "Thank you Mr. Furlong"! Everyone has contributed respectfully on Galloway Patch and it pleases me to no end. I will look up Dr. Witt and Dr. Berlin - thank you. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government studies evidence that the (95% - 98%) are offenders who are familiar with their victims but this is not necessarily the issue I take up with Jessica's Law, not to mention AWA, Wetterling, SORA,SORNA, city, state, national and federal legislation, egregious in nature, and in most cases unconstitutional. It seems to me our legislators would serve their constituants more effectively if they concentrated on the US deficit. By the way Mark Twain is one of my favorite genius authors.
Shelly Stow September 29, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Can anyone tell me why my first comment has been removed? It was there for several days and now is gone.
ltm September 29, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I read one comment you have on here. I would write your comment again if you cannot find it on here. It is not like Patch to remove a comment.
Lila Folster September 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
It appears they have removed all of Joshua's comments. That is quite strange as he made a number of very valid points.
Shelly Stow September 29, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I believe that my missing one was a reply to one of Josh's, and I guess that when his were removed, my reply went with them. That at least makes sense, but then the question is, why were his removed?
ltm September 29, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Yep! You are right. Not cool. Write the editor. I couldn't get my comment posted and he put it on for me. I am confident Anthony Bellano will happily get to the bottom of this and make it right.
Shelly Stow September 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Oh, I've remember the gist of mine; it has to do with the often quoted and even more often misused statement that convicted sex offenders are four times more likely than non-sex offenders to commit a sexual crime. On its face, it is a true statement. Actually looking at it tells a different story: felons who are not sex offenders do commit sex crimes four time less than sex offenders. Their recidivism is 1.32525%. Times that by four and viola' you have about 5.3%. So what we know is that sex offenders rarely repeat sex crimes (5.3%). and non sex offender felons hardly ever do (1.3%)! However, since there are many, many times more non-sex offender felons than there are sex offender felons, the non-sex offender felons are responsible for many more sexual crimes than those on the registry.

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