NJ Senate Approves Tougher Sentences for Sex Offenders

Friday, 05 Oct 2012 11:11 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The Democratic-controlled New Jersey Senate has approved a bill that would lock up some sex offenders for at least 25 years, but it still remains tied up in a committee of the state Assembly.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the bill is modeled after Florida's Jessica Lunsford Act, named for a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a registered sex offender in 2005. The measure carries a sentence of 25 years to life for aggravated sexual assault against a child younger than 13.
The bill would also sentence anyone harboring an offender with up to six months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Republican Sen. Diane Allen introduced the bill back in 2005, but no floor vote was held until this week. New Jersey is still one of the few states that hasn't enacted a “Jessica”  law. Allen said Thursday she thinks politics played a role in holding up the bill.
In July, Fox News' Bill O’Reilly leveled the same charge, accusing Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney of blocking a vote on the bill. Sweeney, who appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" in August, noted that he was co-sponsor of the latest version of the bill and a 2005 bill requiring GPS tracking of convicted sex offenders. But he did admit seven years was too long for the state's version of the Jessica law to languish.

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