Source: The Advertiser News -
Gov. Chris Christie joined with lawmakers and victims advocates for a ceremonial bill signing of the Jessica Lunsford Act which strengthens penalties for those who commit sexual assaults against children in New Jersey.
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R- Morris, Essex, Passaic) was a cosponsor of the legislation that sets a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 25 years to life with no chance of parole for those who are found guilty of aggravated sexual assault against a child under the age of 13.
The law provides flexibility to prosecutors in very limited circumstances for terms of no fewer than 15 years, only when such a plea is in the best interest of the victim as determined by plea guidelines established by the Attorney General’s Office.
“This law will ensure that those who commit the unspeakable act of sexual assault on a child will be taken off our streets and locked behind bars where they cannot harm any more children,” DeCroce said.
The law is named for a nine-year-old Florida resident, Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a registered sex offender in 2005. “The harm that sexual predators inflict on children, their families and friends is immeasurable and must be punished as severely as possible under the law,” added DeCroce.
The legislation was initially sponsored by the late Assemblyman Eric Muñoz in 2005. Muñoz’ wife, Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, is the bill’s prime sponsor.
“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. Justice has now been served,” said Assemblywoman Allison Littell-McHose of Sussex County.
“The new law will equip law enforcement with the tools it needs to make sure sexual predators receive the punishment they deserve.”