Pushing for tougher penalties for crimes against kids

The senate and assembly agree. People who commit sexual against children should face the toughest penalties imaginable.

That’s why the New York State Senate gave final legislative passage to Jessica’s Law (S.8459), sponsored by a number of senators from across the state, which would impose tougher penalties on those who commit sexual crimes against children, further strengthening New York’s sexual assault laws.

The legislation is named for Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year-old-girl who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered by a registered sex offender living in her neighborhood in Florida. “Jessica’s Law” was first signed in Florida last year.

Jessica’s father came to Albany last year to meet with legislators and to urge the state to enact Jessica’s law.

The legislation we have passed will significantly increase penalties for crimes against children and further punish the worst-of-the-worst sexual predators as well as repeat sexual offenders. The law will not only help make sure sexual predators serve longer sentences, but also will be an incredibly powerful deterrent to offenders that have already been released.

Protecting our citizens, especially the vulnerable, is one of the most important functions of government. The legislation will severely punish those who would sexually abuse and take advantage of our children and serves as a stern reminder that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in a civilized society.

Jessica’s Law creates the crime of “predatory sexual assault,” which is defined as committing any of one of four class B violent felonies in article 130 of the penal law along with anyone of four aggravating factors which include: (1) causing serious physical injury to the victim while committing the crime; (2) using or threatening the immediate use of a dangerous instrument while committing the crime; (3) committing any of the four class B violent sex felonies against more than one person; and (4) having been previously convicted of any felony defined in article 130 of the penal law, incest or the use of a child in a sexual performance.

The legislation also creates the crime of “predatory sexual assault against a child.” This crime increases from a class B felony to a class A-II felony, with a required life sentence and minimum term of at least ten and up to twenty-five years in prison, commission of a class B felony sex offense by a person more than eighteen years of age against a child less than thirteen years of age.

The legislation additionally provides that the minimum sentence of imprisonment for a felony offender convicted of the crime of predatory sexual assault or predatory sexual assault against a child would be no less than ten years to life and up to 25 years to life.

The bill was sent to the governor for his consideration.

We must also press for legislation that requires sexual predators to wear GPS monitoring equipment so that their whereabouts can be tracked.

The word is out – predators beware.


Senator Seward’s office web site is www.senatorjimseward.com.

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