"Jessica Lunsford Act" Moves Forward
Special Report - June 19, 2008
Last Wednesday, June 11, the N.C. Senate passed the “Jessica Lunsford Act.” Jessica’s Law, as the bill is called, creates new criminal offenses for rape and first-degree sexual assault if the perpetrator is at least 18 years of age and the victim is a child under the age of 13 years. It sets the sentence for these two new crimes at either life imprisonment without parole, or 25 years mandatory active punishment followed by satellite-based monitoring for life. In addition, Jessica’s Law upgrades the penalties for several other sexual offenses against minors, requires convicted sex offenders moving into the state to register within 3 days (instead of 10), and lengthens the GPS monitoring period for certain convicted sex offenders from 10 years to 30 years. After 10 years, convicted sex offenders can petition superior court to shorten their registration time period. The Act also makes it unlawful for a convicted sex offender who is required to be registered to be on the premises of a place or within 300 feet of a place located in a mall, shopping center, or other public property that is intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including schools, museums, child care centers, nurseries, and playgrounds. There are exceptions for public school students and mental health patients. Finally, the Act places requirements on schools: (1) it requires licensed day care centers and principals of schools to register with the N.C. Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry so they can receive email notification when a registered sex offender moves within one mile of the school; and (2) it requires schools to check the sex offender registries for names of contractual personnel and to prohibit any that appear on the registries from having direct interaction with students.
Because the Senate made changes to Jessica’s Law, the bill must return to the House for concurrence with the Senate changes before it can be ratified and presented to the Governor for his signature. Representative Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), one of the primary sponsors of the bill commented: “The Jessica Lunsford Act makes North Carolina's laws with respect to child predators one of the toughest in the nation. Sex offenders need to be locked away in prison where they cannot harm children. When and if they are released, the GPS monitoring and geographical restrictions need to be so tight they cannot get to children. I am proud and appreciative of my colleagues in the General Assembly for supporting this legislation and trust it will receive a favorable concurrence vote back in the House very soon.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.