Lunsford Law Passes in Florida House

The act toughens penalties for sex offenders and allows police to electronically track them when they’re released from prison.

The new law can’t guarantee the safety of our children. Anyone on probation or community control for a sex offense will be required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet once they’re released from prison under the Jessica Lunsford Act.

The bracelet lets police know where the offender goes, and if he was anywhere near a crime scene. The legislation also guarantees 25 years to life in prison for offenders convicted of molesting children under 12. It was an emotional victory for lawmakers who’ve shepherded the bill through the Legislature.

Rep. Charles Dean is a former sheriff from central Florida, where Jessica Lunsford lived.

Rep. Charlie Dean, (R) Inverness, says, “We are going to take care of those predators that we know of out there, the ones who have committed the offense and are in our registry that we can follow them, we can track them and we can supervise their activities pretty much for the rest of their lives.”

The legislation will help police keep a closer eye on people like the 34,000 offenders and predators in Florida’s sex offender registry. What it won’t do is keep track of people who find ways around the law, or who haven’t been caught yet.

Sen. Nancy Argenziano pushed the Jessica Lunsford Act in the Senate. She says she hopes it sends a message to parents as well as child molesters.

Rep. Nancy Argenziano, (R) Crystal River, says, “What I’m telling people is this is not the cure-all for the sick, defective people who want to prey on your children. They’re still out there. Take every precaution.”

But lawmakers do believe their efforts to crack down on known offenders will lead to fewer young victims like Jessica.

Gov. Bush says he’s eager to sign the bill into law as quickly as possible, but he hopes the Legislature will also put more money into the criminal justice budget to make sure there are enough prison beds for the people who need to be locked up.