Bipartisan legislation known as the “Jessica Lunsford Act,” which imposes a stringent prison sentence and parole ineligibility terms for convicted pedophiles who assault minors, has been signed into law by Gov. Christie. Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose sponsors the bill which is named for Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year-oldFlorida resident who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a registered sex offender.
“The physical and emotional harm done to children, as well as the trauma suffered by their families and communities, deserves the strongest possible response by the justice system,” said McHose, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Justice has now been served. The new law will equip law enforcement with the tools it needs to make sure sexual predators receive the punishment they deserve.
The legislation was initially sponsored by the late Assemblyman Eric Muñoz in 2005. Muñoz’ wife, Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz, R-Union, Morris andSomerset, is the bill’s prime sponsor.
The measure, A-892, imposes a mandatory prison term of 25 years to life without possibility of parole for at least 25 years for persons convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. Parole ineligibility may be extended beyond the minimum 25 years if the convicted sex offender has been convicted of other crimes. In addition, if a victim is unable to testify, a prosecutor would be permitted to negotiate a plea agreement for a prison term of at least 15 years without parole.