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By ARep | February 21st, 2013 - 5:54pm
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ANGELINI-McHOSE-SPONSORED ‘JESSICA LUNSFORD ACT’ APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY

A bipartisan bill known as the “Jessica Lunsford Act,” which imposes a stringent prison sentence and parole ineligibility terms for convicted pedophiles who assault minors, was approved today by the General Assembly. Prime sponsors, Assembly Republican Deputy Conference Leader Mary Pat Angelini and Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose call it “common sense” legislation.

The measure, A-2027, imposes a mandatory prison term of 25 years to life without possibility of parole for at least 25 years for persons convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. Parole ineligibility may be extended beyond the minimum 25 years if the convicted sex offender has been convicted of other crimes. In addition, if a victim is unable to testify, a prosecutor would be permitted to negotiate a plea agreement for a prison term of at least 15 years without parole.

The legislation, initially sponsored by the late Assemblyman Eric Muñoz in 2005, received committee approvals in the three prior legislative sessions, but has never been posted for a vote before the General Assembly. Muñoz’ wife, Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, is also a prime sponsor of the bill.

“This measure, in various forms, has circled through the Legislature for years. It is unconscionable that it is not yet law in New Jersey,” said Angelini, R-Monmouth. “The role of government is to protect our citizens, especially the most vulnerable such as children. Sexual assault against a child is revolting and those individuals who commit such acts need to know they are going away for a very long time. This isn’t rocket science, it’s simple common sense.”

“New Jersey is one of the few remaining states in the nation that has not yet enacted Jessica’s Law,” said McHose, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “We must take a stand against sexual crimes against children and against those criminals who specifically target children. Children are among the most vulnerable members of society. The physical and emotional harm done them, as well as the trauma suffered by their families and communities, deserves the strongest possible response by the justice system."

Jessica Lunsford was a nine-year-old Florida resident who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a registered sex offender.

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