Texas Needs to Pass Jessica's Law
On February 23, 2005, Jessica Lunsford was abducted from her home in Florida and subsequently raped and killed. Following this barbaric crime, a nationwide movement was started to strengthen sentences for convicted sex offenders. It started in Florida when the Florida Legislature passed legislation in 2005 which requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime monitoring of adults convicted of molestation against children.
Other state legislatures took notice, and now 17 states have enacted a version of Jessica's Law. The U.S. Congress has also taken up the issue, with a federal version of Jessica's Law being filed. House Resolution 1505 by Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Florida) would encourage states to adopt stringent measures including:
1.) Require sex offenders who fail to properly register to wear Global Positioning System devices on their ankles for five years following their release from prison, or for ten years for those classified as sexual predators.
2.) Require states to mail sex offender registration forms at least twice per year to verify registrants' addresses. Registrants who do not respond within 10 days would be considered non-compliant.
With so many states and the federal government focusing on this issue, it is imperative that Texas institute reforms now to ensure the safety of our children. I have already made a pledge to my constituents that I would work to ensure the passage of this important legislation, and I am currently working on a bill draft modeled after legislation already passed in other states. I fully intend to file Jessica's Law in the next regular session of the Texas Legislature and will do everything in my power to ensure its passage.
Sexual predators who victimize our families and our children need to be kept off our streets and out of our neighborhoods. Jessica's law will help to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, and I look forward to working on this issue with my colleagues in the Texas Senate.
Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) is a practicing family physician who represents District Two in the Texas Senate.