Jessica Lunsford was a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, sexually molested for three days and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in 2005.
Later that year, the Florida Legislature passed "Jessica's Law" - a bill that imposes life sentences on perpetrators of sexual battery by an adult on a victim 12 years old or younger. Since then, 45 states have passed Jessica's Laws mandating minimum 25-year sentences for offenders convicted of "lewd and lascivious molestation of a child."
Hawaii is one of only five states in the union without a Jessica's Law-type bill in place. To recap what the original Jessica's Law proposed:
* Increase the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory minimum 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring.
* Increase from 20 to 30 years the period before a sexual predator is allowed to petition to have the sexual predator designation removed.
* Increase sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements.
* Sexual predators who murder their victims now qualify for the death penalty in capital cases.
* Failing to reregister as a sexual offender/predator, harboring, or assisting a sexual predator/offender is a third-degree felony.
* Require those already convicted of sex crimes to have electronic monitoring for the remainder of their probation.
* Require all county misdemeanor probation officials to search the sexual offender registry when a new offender is assigned to them.
(Online source: jessicaslawnow.wordpress.com.)
It is hard for us to understand how anybody can oppose this effort to protect our children. Yet, efforts by Sen. Sam Slom to get such a bill through the Hawaii Legislature died again this year.
Protection of children is not a partisan issue. Let's get a Jessica's Law in place in Hawaii.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.