With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Jeb Bush made sure nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford would not be forgotten. The legislation bearing her name requires more reporting by sex offenders, tougher sentences, and if a predator gets out of prison, lifelong electronic monitoring.
Gov. Jeb Bush says, "Those that fail to register are charged with a third degree felony."
For a grief stricken family, the legislation was the end of a long and hurtful road.
Mark Lunsford, Jessica's father, says, "This is the worst thing that I will ever have to go through in my life, I know it is. All I can do is pray that it doesn’t happen to another parent."
Six weeks after Jessica disappeared, 13-year-old Sarah Lunde was murdered. Her mother was also at the Capitol for the ceremony and says the system isn’t fair.
Kelly May, her mother, says, "I’m very upset and mad, especially when I was told that he got to speak to his mother. My daughter doesn’t get to speak to me anymore."
Sponsors were reluctant to say that if this legislation had been in place, Jessica Lunsford or Sarah Lunde might still be alive, but they say now that it is the law in Florida it may cause someone to think twice in the future.
Rep. Charlie Dean, (R) Inverness, says, "Heading for a lifetime on monitor, lifetime of supervision, and a lifetime of prison should you mess up."
The new law applies to anyone convicted after July 1, but it does give judges the authority to order electronic monitoring for anyone currently on probation who violates the terms of their release.
On Wednesday, lawmakers will debate another bill to crack down on probation violators. The attorney general wants to make it easier to lock up ex-cons who don’t meet all the conditions of their probation, which could prove quite costly.
Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or firstname.lastname@example.org.