Jessicas_Law_Decal_2

Parents, who have suffered the pain, the anguish of losing a child deal with this torment steadily.

A parent never honestly over come’s the loss and parts of you may never accept it, but you try to find ways to cope with it. I’m not saying it’s easy, because not. In fact, it may end up being the most terrible thing you’ll ever endure.

One such parent that suffered this horrible anguish was Mark Lunsford. His daughter, Jessica Lunsford a 9-year-old girl being sexually abused, kidnapped, and buried alive in Florida.

On March 7, 2007, John Couey was found guilty of all charges to Lunsford’s death,  including first-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary with assault or battery upon any person, and capital sexual battery. The jury deliberated for four hours, tasked with recommending either life in prison without parole or the death penalty, the only two possible sentences available under Florida law.

A week later, after about one hour and 15 minutes of deliberation, a jury recommended John Couey be put to death.

On August 11, 2007, a jury overseeing the Lunsford case voted 10-2 that John Couey is eligible for the death sentence. The defense for John Couey argued that he had suffered from a lifetime of emotional abuse and had a below average IQ, which would enable him to avoid a death sentence under a 2002 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting execution of mentally handicapped people.

However, the most likely intelligence test rated John Couey’s IQ at 78, above the standard accepted level of mental retardation, which is 70. The testing made it clear that John Couey was capable and knew what he was doing. This was a real setback to John Covey’s defense.

On September 30, 2009, at 11:15 a.m. EST, John Couey died at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital after complications from anal cancer, before the sentence of the court could be carried out. Once John Couey was not required to wear GPS tracking went for his next victim, Jessica Lunsford. This could have been your daughter, just imagine the anguish any parent would have to live with if this happened to them.

Jessica Lunsford came from Gaston County, North Carolina before moving to Florida. In the loving memory of Mark Lunsford’s daughter Jessica, a law was introduced to enforce stricter regulations about sex offenders called, “Jessica’s Law.”

In 2005, Florida legislators designed a state statute to protect potential victims and cut a sexual offender’s ability to re-offend. Florida state legislators concluded with a state statute to honor Jessica Lunsford. Florida legislators introduced a state statute called Jessica Lunsford Act. Flordia legislators introduced the Jessica Lunsford Act at the federal level that year but it was never enacted into law by our United States Congress. So the Florida Legislators passed state statute Jessica Lundsford Act into their state law. The law became commonly known as Jessica’s Law. The name is also used by the media to appoint all legislation and potential legislation in other states modeled after the Florida law. Forty-Six states have introduced such legislation since Florida’s bill passed.

The Jessica Lunsford Act aka. Jessica’s Law:

1.) Increase the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory least 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring.

2.) The increase, from 20 to 30 years, the period before a sexual predator allowed petitioning to have the sexual predator designation removed.

3.) Increase sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements.

4.) Sexual predators who murder their victims now qualify for the death penalty in capital cases.

5.) Failing to re-register as a sexual offender/predator, harboring, or assisting a sexual predator/offender is a third-degree felony.

6.) Require those already convicted of sex crimes to have electronic monitoring for the rest of their probation

7.) Require all county misdemeanor probation officials to search the sexual offender registry when a new offender assigned to them.

Throughout the United States, many sex offenders have fallen through the cracks by changing their identity and not re-registering once moved such offenders do manipulate the system.

Once a sex offender is released from jail or the prison system, they are required, by law , to register with the Sheriff of the county in which they plan to live.

It is the job of the Sheriff’s department dealing with a registry of persons convicted of certain acts of unlawful sexual behavior and who are in compliance with sex offender registration laws. Persons should not rely solely on the sex offender registry as a safeguard against perpetrators in their communities.

Most of the new federal or state laws that have made these strict and harsh requirements possible come to sex offenders. Sadly did not occur until after the tragic loss of not only Jessica Lunsford but many other children. Can say that many of these new laws were paid by the blood of children!

After Jessica’s Law was passed in Florida and with the United States Congress taking a pass. Was up to asking each state to stand up to the plate and make a much-needed difference help protect our children.

This was not going to be an easy task and was going to take a lot of faith with patience.

At this time, North Carolina like many states has such problems and authorities limited due to the lack of state and federal laws well as procedures. Numerous law enforcement made it clear us that was like working with hands tied behind one’s back. We go out and break our neck get these type of offenders, predators and they get such light sentences from a judge. Feels like we are a joke and just wasting our time. We have too many John Couey types, and one could be living next to you?

Mr. Roger’s had it right; “ You need to know the people in your neighborhood.”

Taking a non-political stand various people, groups and organizations formed an action group/organization called, “Jessica’s Law Now North Carolina.”

The Group/organization formed originally in response to apathetic lawmakers, who are dithering about Jessica’s Law not making a substantial difference in protecting our children. This formed coalition tired of all the prolonging games and excuses our lawmakers have gone when it comes to our children.

We say,“Cut the fat !” Legislators rather spend state funds on pet projects and guilt trips (Apologies for Slavery, Smoking Bans, Trans Fat Bans, etc.) focus.”

The excuses coming from our representatives are pathetic not looking at facts; they instead tell you why they cannot do something. However, they certainly can find the time and funding for other things. Like other, state and federal legislators, North Carolina legislators at times behave like “ P. I. M. P.’s ” or “ Power, Influence, Money, Politics !”

We worked In Conjunction with Mark Lunsford, Volunteers, and many N.C. Legislators help see HB 933 be passed. The goal was to work with people, not a political machine.

In 2007, State Attorney General Roy Cooper realized North Carolina laws are lenient on sex offenders. We are grateful for his public stance, on calling for harsher penalties and laws against sex offenders. Administrations have often failed to make law enforcement aware of the placement of paroled sex offenders in their communities, thus allowing violent sex offenders to go freely roam our neighborhoods. By not providing mandatory hearings and stricter penalties for non-compliances, they take power away from our law enforcers.

We should all work together to make sure that Jessica’s Law passed in all fifty states. There are presently 15 states that have not yet passed any form of Jessica’s Law, it saddens me to think that my home state of Tennessee and North Carolina where I grew up included in the list of states that have not passed Jessica’s Law. I do not know why, but I intend to find out.”God Bless, Charlie Daniels 2007.

With Jessica’s Law not moving forward much in 2007. We knew that had to take more drastic steps with our state leaders. This would way bring our leaders in agreement on Jessica’s Law.

Positive ideal came from my friend Marc Klaas. We compose a joint letter on the need for such laws, like Adam Walsh Act and Jessica’s Law. We were grateful to the media outlets that used letter, as the news story. This started the public putting many questions to N.C. Legislators which they did not like, tuff!

Our organization applied much specific heat in 2008. We did various rallies and get-togethers that brought much public attention to Jessica’s Law. We had several people who made talks educating the importance of stricter laws and guidance for sex offenders. We talked with many local leaders throughout the state of North Carolina and telling how they can help support this.

John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor have been vocal proponents of Jessica’s Law, arguing that children are protected, and those child sex offenders are held to a higher standard.

In 2008, O’Reilly pointed out that the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Vermont have shown reluctance and refused to pass a Jessica’s Law in their respective state legislatures. He claims that Utah, North Carolina, and New Mexico are inconclusive while all other states are either moving direction of passing Jessica’s Law or have already passed some form of it.

Jessica’s Law Now North Carolina was grateful to John Walsh and his staff for their support and guidance. Along with the pressure that Bill O’Reilly was putting on North Carolina Governor Mike Easley and North Carolina Legislators in 2008.

On April 16, 2008, Mark Lunsford told Jessica’s Law Now North Carolina,” What happened to my daughter should have never happened, and I’m working to make sure it doesn’t happen to another child. It saddens me to know my home state of North Carolina has not yet passed Jessica’s Law. I won’t rest until we do.”

Jessica’s Law Now North Carolina enforced a strong petition toward state legislators and made it personal not political. We found that politics blindsides our politician’s. That is why politician’s favorite color is plaid. This caused many a state leader either mad or understood our reasons. We had many talks with various state legislators during this time. Make sure they fully understood our motives in doing this.

State Representative Tim Moore and I had many conversations and times heated over Jessica’s Law getting passed. Representative Tim Moore made it clear,” Mark, you can do better than us, come up here and do so .” For next several months, I was a daily fixture at North Carolina State Legislator Building. Several times brought various associates, friends and media help us pay attention to Jessica’s Law. I sat through every meeting that was possible. Made it a daily priority talk with every representative possible.

We kept saying to North Carolina Legislators,”Are we there yet? ”

Finally, it seems that Jessica’s Law was going happen. Several state representatives met to talk about an agreement for Jessica’s Law. They came out sharing the news with us and shook on it. Now, we just had to wait for the votes. Seems that a selfish and greedy politician wanted play angle. Sadly everything came to a standstill, no passing Jessica’s Law. Many of us frustrated beyond belief!

I got on the phone with a producer friend of mine in Atlanta and another in Charlotte. Together, we came up with the idea that would blow the doors down. Since both political parties are speaking out for Jessica’s Law. Came to the conclusion to have the various parties of politicians do a press conference. In which they tell what is going on with political games comes to Jessica’s Law. I knew they could make this happen since one deals with and other works with CNN. We knew that Bill O’Reilly would really love this and knew his producer go for it and he was standing by ready to go.

We talked to several of central legislators on the ideal, and they love possibility. They were making a political problem for the passing of Jessica’s Law. Our solution came known by many of state legislators. We place a time limit before we enact. A 180 turn happen not long after this got out. Stands made by various state legislators with us helped Jessica’s Law get passed. Many of us had tears of joy after taking about little over 3 years get this law passed. Sadly these types of situations occur many a time in our local, state and national governments.

One of the proudest moments in my life was calling Mark Lunsford and told him the North Carolina Legislators have passed HB 933 aka. Jessica’s Law. After Governor Easley signs Jessica’s Law, it will officially take effect December 1, 2008,” said Mark A. Palmer, Executive Director of Jessica’s Law Now North Carolina.

Mark Lunsford overjoyed to hear over three years of hard work come to fruition. North Carolina was harder getting legislators come together, due to the various concerns of state cost and sexual offenders rights. Several state legislators concern more for sexual offenders than victimization of a child. Again, you have to take politics out and make it personal for a “Politician.”

We were all so grateful to our allies in the North Carolina Legislation that never backed down at the time. We sincerely appreciated North Carolina Representative’s Julie Howard, Tim Moore and North Carolina State Senator Hoyle for their leadership.

Monday, July 28, 2008, a ceremony took place at Gastonia North Carolina Courthouse which North Carolina Governor Mike Easley signed HB 933 into law. We were all pleased that this was finally happening.

It was finally official North Carolina has Jessica’s Law!

Governor Mike Easley told Mark Lunsford and I this was a harsher version of Jessica’s Law than we saw. North Carolina Representative Tim Moore agreed with Governor Mike Easley. We asked them would it cover stricter guidelines of a sexual predator capabilities, where he lives and able go? Both answered, “Yes.” Governor Mike Easley made it also abundantly clear us about what was added about background checks with schools and working with or around children. Mark Lunsford and I were even more satisfied. I reminded Mark Lunsford that North Carolina Representative Tim Moore is a lawyer in his downtime and helped drafted North Carolina’s version of Jessica’s Law. Well as, Governor Mike Easley adding in several adjustments that dealt with stricter background checks at schools, etc.

In the next year, we started to question several areas of North Carolina’s version of Jessica’s Law. Several of the Legislators felt we were miss informed and not at all understanding the whole picture. Even the Governor’s Aids thought we were overzealous on the matter. The new lawyers we dealt with agreed with us about our concerns. The imperative language was lacking in several areas in North Carolina’s version of Jessica’s Law. Our new legal advisors felt that sooner or later North Carolina will see legal proceedings with lack of or need for interpretation comes to Jessica’s Law. In the numerous discussions had with the few North Carolina politicians and other outsiders that agreed on the importance seem that we hit a wall. That the North Carolina politicians felt we are making a mountain out of a molehill still and we worrying about nothing. We made it clear that time will tell.

Since 2005, our organization has assisted thirteen other states obtaining versions Jessica’s Law. We have supported with over one thousand cases, where a victimized or assaulted child needed help. We are part of a more extensive network of organizations that aids Missing and Exploited Children. This system consists of child advocates, media, law enforcement and national organizations make this possible. In 2009, we changed the name to “Jessica’s Law Now .”

Jessica’s Law Now, is proactive, not reactive, in helping families deal with these issues fraught with cases like these. We continually helped steer victimized families and children towards counseling and healing. Jessica’s Law Now network works in coöperation and supports many organizations, groups, individuals comes harsher laws for sexual predators or offenders. We fight for stricter regulations for the welfare of our children. Many of our states have too many loopholes still in their statutes comes to predators and offenders. We strive for a positive difference comes these situations.

States With/Without Jessica’s Law:

*Legend:

• States in yellow do not have any version of Jessica’s Law.
• States in green have a partial version of Jessica’s Law.
• States in purple have a good version of Jessica’s Law.

In 2006, New York enacted water down version of Jessica’s Law. It created class A-II felony for a person over the age 18 years old commits a class B violent felony sex offense (rape 1st, criminal sexual act 1st, aggravated sexual abuse 1st, and course of sexual conduct against a child 1st) against a child less than 13 years of age. Still many feel that New York can strengthen what’s lacking comes to its version of Jessica’s Law. New York State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R, C-Halfmoon) and New York State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R, C, I-Glenville) have introduced stronger legislation that enacts a fuller version of Jessica’s Law. They are hoping state legislators will pass harsher version in their 2013 session.

Also in 2006, Vermont passed HB 856 that provides a possible sentencing minimum of 10 years, mandatory minimum 5 years, and a maximum of compulsory life for sexual assault on a child under 13 years old. This includes electronic monitoring of a definition of an alternative sentencing program – not specific to sex offenders.

New York and Vermont do have state statutes related to Jessica’s Law. Still, the state laws are not strong enough. The legislators in these states feel they have a good enough version of Jessica’s Law.

In 2007, we had many conversations with legislators from Idaho, Illinois, Wyoming, Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii with their lack of support for Jessica’s Law. All we heard were complaints about lack of funding.

Primary reasons lawmakers’ give of not passing Jessica’s Law is the cost of longer sentences and added monitoring.

Colorado Senator Penry said, “ I believe that there is a real need to enact Jessica’s Law, a tough least mandatory requirement of 20 years in prison for the first time a monster rapes a child.”

Senator Penry felt be worth the cost protect our children. Especially that not every District Court treats cases like Colorado Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret claims.

Colorado Senator Penry introduced Jessica’s Law in 2007, and it failed.

A year later, Colorado Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret said, “ We have laws here in Colorado that are very similar in fact, that actually carry lifetime sentences, some that are longer than Jessica’s Law.”

Sure the many victims like Jon Benet Ramsey would agree with justice is lacking in the state.

State Statutes Related to Jessica’s Law, August 2008:

In 2012, we had five states that do not have Jessica’s Law. They include New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado, Idaho, and Hawaii. If they had Jessica’s Law; it imposes a 25-year sentence on any adult convicted for the first time of violating the sexual innocence of a child.

New Jersey has been like a roller coaster with Jessica’s Law. Legislators will claim to go to pass Jessica’s Law and does not happen. This has been going on for several years. Mark Lunsford made many trips to New Jersey give support that’s been requested. Still, the legislators cannot get their act together.

Both the State Senate and State House are in turmoil with their own versions of Jessica’s Law. Presently we have two different versions that are sitting on state legislation. One can only hope that legislators can work this out. If not more than likely it will die.

New Jersey is the same issue that North Carolina faced, it almost did not make the floor be heard, there were fights about the”language” in the bill, and toward the end, it was being held, hostage.

It took legislators on both sides willing to stand up and explain to the press, people, and state about why this bill would fail so close to completion. As we mediating between everyone to negotiate a last way to get this bill finalized else it would have been another year, starting from the beginning, hearing the same arguments, etc. As it was, it was several years of working towards this end. It is a shame that New Jersey comes so close only to fail. We have told what it takes to do this. Have to sit on these guys daily and ask,”Are we there yet?”

October 21, 2012, Mark Lunsford told us:”New Jersey legislators more than likely putting off Jessica’s Law until December. I am concern how Jersey’s legislators are tearing Jessica’s Law apart.”

New Jersey Legislators seem more concern with other issue’s like seat belts for pets than children’s safety. Was told Jessica’s Law was a lower priory many legislators.

Just like the thinking of Colorado and New Jersey legislators, other state officials are more the same in their thoughts comes to Jessica’s Law. States like New York, Illinois, Idaho and Hawaii feel that their countries are beautiful comes to their laws for children and predators. Still many of these states have been in the spotlight for various crimes against children.

Our children are precious gifts not only us but the world. That is our duty as parents and society to protect their welfare. Seems that our lawmakers forget their jobs and time has come to remind them. We need to pressure the State Legislators, and Governors of New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Colorado, Idaho, and Hawaii have Jessica’s Law.

Many a parent, victims and citizens join in with Mark Lunsford’s crusade. Their mission is telling the importance of having Jessica’s Law. Several citizens made websites and organized action committee’s make they out cries know.

February 21, 2013, New Jersey’s General Assembly finally passed Jessica’s Law. It is long overdue and will increase the criminal penalties on those who commit sex crimes against minors. The version proves sentence of between 25 years and life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault of a victim less than 13 years old. The bill also establishes a period of parole eligibility of at least 25 years for a person convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a victim less than 13 years old.

Then it will be up to the New Jersey State Senate pass Jessica’s Law and the governor sign it.

In late 2013, Colorado, Idaho and New Jersey Legislator’s still could not pass Jessica’s Law. Their main excuse is funding, and our state laws are strict enough. We say, tell that to the sexually abused children and their parents.

The problem that legislators have faced with trying to pass Jessica’s Law and other harsher laws on sex offenders been various lawyers, law firms challenging rights for sex offenders. It has brought many battles to our courts questioning constitution of law. Several times courts have agreed that the wording is lacking making interpretation questionable.

Thus far in 2013, Maryland, Oklahoma and Indian are the states to challenge various laws on sex offenders. Multiple legislators and lawyers feel that the rights of a sex offender being violated and making the law Unconstitutional. Sadly in many of these cases, statutes or laws are redirected in favor of the sex offender.

This is why it’s so important that legislators use the needed wording in their laws making them constitutional, not unconstitutional.

Representatives are pathetic not looking at facts; they instead tell you why they cannot do something. Tired of all the prolonging games and excuse’s our lawmakers have made when it comes to our children. We say,“Cut the BS!”

It finally came official on June 2, 2014, when New Jersey’s Governor Christie signed Jessica’s Law. New Jersey has become the 46 state have a version of Jessica Lunsford Act aka. Jessica’s Law.

Our organizations, along with many concern individuals been fighting with state legislators over 9 years see Jessica’s Law passed in New Jersey.

We are truly grateful to all the primary sponsors for new law included state Sens. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex/Warren/Morris; Diane Allen, R-Burlington; and Tom Kean Jr., R-Union; and Assembly members Alison Littell McHose, R-Sussex/Warren/Morris; Nancy Munoz, R-Union/Morris/Somerset; and Mary Pat Angelini, R-Monmouth.

Law imposes mandatory 25-year terms without parole for anyone convicted of assaulting a child younger than 13. Prosecutors would be permitted to negotiate a 15-year sentence to keep some victims from having to testify.

Littell McHose in a statement said: “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. The new law will equip law enforcement with the tools it needs to make sure sexual predators receive the punishment they deserve.”

New Jersey’s Governor Christie made it clear that it is up to the courts, district attorneys on how they decide to use New Jersey’s version of Jessica’s Law. Which is a political tactic of passing the buck?

In 2014, state of Colorado adopted what marked the version of Jessica’s Law. Why people thought finally and rejoiced in a 9 year battle with state legislators. It turns out too many questions were raised. What happen?

Problem is from sponsorship of the bill with the cost of a stricter way is considered, the bill which passed only reluctantly a great deal of adverse publicity in the previous legislative session.

According to the following: Under legislative procedures, there are three types of bill sponsorship – the prime sponsors (one for each house) introduce the bill and present it to the committee for a hearing, which is often called “ carrying the bill ;” co-sponsors may sign onto the bill to show support in the advance vote, or they may add their names after final passage.

The changes are part of a national movement to strengthen child molestation laws. In 2005, in the wake of the abduction, rape, and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, Florida passed House Bill 1877, the Jessica Lunsford Act, better known as “ Jessica’s Law .” It mandated 25 years for first-time offenders and the wearing of a GPS tracking device for those out on parole. The overwhelming number of states followed suit in the next several years, according to a survey of state laws done by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Colorado would have joined them in 2007, but HB07-1137 killed 8-3 in the House Judiciary Committee, with 6 Democrats and 2 Republican voting against. (Rep. Debbie Stafford would switch parties from Republican to Democrat after the end of the 2007 session.)

Rep. Primavera was in the legislature, but not on the Judiciary Committee at that time.

In 2013, Rep. Libby Szabo (R-Arvada) introduced HB13-1149, which would have removed sentencing discretion from the district attorneys and judges, providing a 25-year sentence for first offenders, and any parole would have been for life, requiring GPS tracking. District attorneys would have continued to have discretion in what they charged the defendant with.

Instead of assigning the bill to Judiciary, House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) sent it to the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. This committee is known colloquially as the “ Kill Committee,” from its bipartisan use over the years to quietly kill bills majority doesn’t want to be brought to a floor vote. It voted down 7-4 on a straight party-line vote.

Ferrandino’s decision became the object of controversy, including a much-viewed street interview on Bill O’Reilly’s show, where Ferrandino defended his decision to send the bill to the Kill Committee, and asserted that Colorado’s laws were high enough as they stood. Ferrandino was mirroring an argument made by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Boulder) in committee.

In 2014, Rep. Szabo again filed her bill, HB14-1264, under the title “ Jessica’s Law,” while Foote – yes, the same Mike Foote who argued that the laws are sufficient – and fellow Democrat Sen. Mike Johnston (Denver) submitted the less-stringent HB14-1260. Their bill classifies various offenses as Class 2, 3, or 4 felonies, with 24, 18, and 10-year minimums, and doesn’t assume lifetime parole, allowing an offender to shed the tracking device after a certain period. In comments to Watchdog Wire, Szabo said, “ The Democrats passed a watered-down bill that keeps the same broken system of judicial and prosecutorial discretion. All it does is giving parents a false sense of security .”

On March 3, 2014, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted both to pass the Democrats’ HB1260 and to kill the stricter HB1264. The bill was eventually passed unanimously in the House after floor amendments designed to strengthen it rejected on voice votes. The bill was ultimately signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper.

Rep. Primavera’s and Rep. Tyler’s only action on this bill was to vote for approval on the floor and go along with rejecting measure to make it stricter. By advertising sponsorship in their campaign literature, they seem to overstate their own involvement in, and their party’s enthusiasm for, a favorite piece of law-and-order legislation.

It will be interesting see what comes from this. Colorado is presently in questions about their version of Jessica’s Law, unlike New York or California had.

Now that New Jersey, Colorado has passed their version of Jessica’s Law. We have three states remaining Idaho, Illinois, Hawaii. These three states do not show any state statutes related to Jessica’s Law. Some still feel that New York should be added. Yet, their state legislators think is not needed.

The exciting thought to California and Jessica’s Law, in 2006 the voter’s passed registered sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school, park or any other place children gather. This was an addition to what was passed in 2005 version by state legislators.

In 2017, one of the leading problems that came up was during a California case that ended up overturning area of Jessica’s Law. Which is allowing paroles with probation officers discretion for residency restrictions and of course they are exercising this fully. This opens up a can of worms.

It will be up to state government make any required differences. Hopefully, this will happen before an attorney representing a child predator is able to walk free!


Advertisements