The tragic story of Jessica Lunsford infuriated the public and pushed lawmakers to crack down on sex offenders. After the nine-year-old girl was allegedly molested and murdered by convicted sex offender John Couey, lawmakers passed the Jessica Lunsford Act. Now the challenge is to make it work.
State law enforcement officials are working to make sure sheriff’s departments register sex offenders twice instead of once a year.
Commissioner Guy Tunnell with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says, “It’s still a work in progress, but I’m confident we’ll be ready.”
Another challenge is monitoring sex offenders on probation by using ankle bracelets and Global Positioning Satellites. It sounds good, but the bid process hit a snag.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections says even if a company isn’t selected by the September 1 deadline, the state is ready and it can track sex offenders. Despite any glitches in the process, child advocates say Florida is leading the way in getting tough on sex offenders.
Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says, “I think it’s really important and I think, frankly, Florida’s legislation has captured the attention of the nation.”
Jessica’s Lunsford’s grieving father, Mark, worked tirelessly to push the new law. He is hoping his daughter will be remembered for making Florida a safer place for other children.
Among other things, the Jessica Lunsford Act increases the penalty for child molestation to life in prison or a split sentence of 25 years plus electronic monitoring.