Tough new legislation would impose a 25-year to life prison sentence upon conviction of the crime of predatory sexual assault against a child; would give New York State a true “Jessica’s Law” to better combat sex predators who prey on kids

(Editor's Note: In light of the shocking assault of a Cambridge kindergartener that took place yesterday at the New York State Museum, Senator Marchione and Assemblyman Tedisco are continuing their call for passage of legislation that would strengthen "Jessica's Law" to better protect NY's children.)

New York State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R,C-Halfmoon) and New York State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) today announced their tough new legislation that would enact a true “Jessica’s Law” to better protect New York’s children from dangerous sexual predators – and give law enforcement more effective tools to punish and monitor these criminals.

Jessica’s Law was created in memory of Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year-old girl from Florida who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered by a registered sex offender living in her neighborhood. As a result of this tragedy, Florida enacted one of the nation’s toughest child molestation laws by mandating a 25-year minimum prison sentence for molesting a child less than 12 years of age. Jessica’s Law has been used to designate all legislation and potential bills in other states modeled after the Florida law. Numerous states have introduced similar legislation since Florida’s Jessica’s Law was enacted, with 18 states enacting such measures.

In New York, “Jessica’s Law Lite” was enacted in 2006, creating the class A-II felony crime of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child when a person over 18 years of age commits a class B violent felony sex offense (rape 1st, criminal sexual act 1st, aggravated sexual abuse 1st, course of sexual conduct against a child 1st) against a child less than 13 years of age.

However, because New York has a much weaker – and less effective – version of Jessica’s Law, the minimum prison sentence upon conviction of this crime is only 10 to 25 years, which lags behind many other states with a true Jessica’s Law on their books, as noted by Bill O’Reilly, host of the top-rated O’Reilly Factor on FOX News, and a long-time, outspoken advocate of Jessica’s Law and protecting children from sex predators. In fact, on his website – www.billoreilly.com – New York is actually listed as one of seven states “heading in the wrong direction” in terms of enacting a true Jessica’s Law.

Senator Marchione and Assemblyman Tedisco’s bills (Senate Bill S.5610/Assembly Bill A.6158) would enact a true “Jessica’s Law” for New York State by significantly increasing the mandatory minimum prison term of 25-years to life for individuals convicted of the crime of predatory sexual assault against a child. Their bill also would require lifetime parole supervision for such sex offenders, where a violation of parole could result in their return to prison.

“Any time we have an opportunity to strengthen our laws and better protect kids from becoming victimized by sexual predators, we should do everything and anything in our power to do so. What happened to Jessica Lunsford was a national tragedy. In her memory, New York needs to enact a true Jessica’s Law so we can better protect all of our children. Politics and political ideology should not be the reason why such legislation gets held up and denies New York State from having a true Jessica’s Law. Like millions of viewers, I have watched Bill O’Reilly speak passionately about this issue and I am in 100 percent agreement with his assessment that New York State must have a true Jessica’s Law on the books, no excuses,” Senator Marchione said.

“It is time that our Empire State joined other states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Virginia and Florida that are headed in the right direction regarding this much-needed public safety measure. Let’s make 2013 the year New York State did everything it could to better protect our kids by finally getting a true Jessica’s Law on the books,” Senator Marchione stated.

“New York State must have zero tolerance for any sexual predator that victimizes a child. The emotional and psychological trauma committed on children by these deviants can last a lifetime. There’s no question that these violent criminals who prey on children deserve to be locked up for 25 years to life for the innocence they’ve stolen,” said Assemblyman Tedisco.

“For several years, I’ve sponsored Jessica’s Law in the Assembly, which has been championed by many advocates for children and crime victims including Bill O’Reilly. I’m pleased that Senator Marchione has introduced this companion legislation in the state Senate. It’s time the Assembly Majority stop talking the talk about protecting women and children and start walking the walk and allow Jessica’s Law to move forward,” said Tedisco.

Presently, both Senate Bill S.5610 and Assembly Bill A.6158 are pending before the Committee on Codes in their respective houses of the state Legislature for further consideration.