While Jessica’s Law varies from state to state, several core components of the law remain the same. These include:Typically anytime the Victims Rights folks and criminal justice reform advocates like ACLU both oppose an idea, it's probably a really bad one, for many different reasons, or at least it's worth a second (or third) look. That's certanly the case at this point with House Bill 8, which contains two of the three provisions TAASA identified as potentially making victims less safe.
Initially, these proposals may seem to carry merit, but after closer examination all three have flaws so serious that their implementation may result in communities that are less safe.
- Twenty-five year mandatory minimum sentences for any offender that rapes a child under a certain age (typically 11-14)
- Electronically monitor sex offenders for life through Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
- Create 2,000 foot Predator Free Zones surrounding all parks and schools
Go read the rest. Like TAASA, I'm especially opposed to adding a 25-year minimum, especially when it's only on these "continuous abuse" cases. Now every politician in the state will go home and run campaign ads on the TV saying child molesters will get 25 years because of their vote. So the public will think that's the penalty, however the bill is actually crafted. Leaving it at a regular second or first degree felony (2-20 or 5-99) leaves the assessment of the lengthiest sentences in the hands of a judge or jury.
The GPS tracking and residency restrictions opposed by TAASA are cumbersome, stupid, and create hardships on ex-offenders that encourage recidivism instead of helping them rehabilitate and succeed, so I oppose them, too. But those are not immediately dangerous to victims the way that mandatory minimums are. There will be families who don't report Grandpa because the 25-year minimum would be a life sentence. If that happens, or rather, when it does, where will these preening legislators be then?