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Governor Bush Signs Jessica Lunsford Act

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Location: Tallahassee, FL


GOVERNOR BUSH SIGNS JESSICA LUNSFORD ACT

~~Tough new sentences increase protection for Florida's families ~~

Governor Jeb Bush today signed into law landmark legislation aimed at protecting all Floridians from sexual predators and offenders. House Bill 1877, known as The Jessica Lunsford Act, enhances penalties for sexual crimes against children. The bill also calls for the creation of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement task force charged with ensuring Florida's law enforcement agencies work together to properly communicate information about sexual offenders between agencies.

"Violent, sexual crimes against our innocent children are perhaps the most heinous imaginable. These added protections I sign into law today will provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to protect children from sexual offenders and predators," Governor Bush said. "I commend the Florida Legislature for addressing this issue in such a comprehensive and thorough manner. This legislation is an important element of a very strong set of laws and regulations we have implemented to address
sexual predators and sexual offenders."

The Jessica Lunsford Act will:

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

Increase, from 20 to 30 years, the period of time before a sexual predator is allowed to petition to have the sexual predator designation removed.

Increase sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements. Sexual predators who murder their victims now qualify for the death penalty in capital cases. Designate failing to re-register as a sexual offender/predator or harboring or
assisting a sexual predator/offender a third degree felony.

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

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

Provide more than $11 million in added funding:

o $3 million for technology
o $3.9 million for electronic monitoring
o $3.6 million for prison bed construction
o $1.3 million for data sharing

"We must be tenacious in our efforts to keep these predators in check," said bill sponsor Representative Charles Dean. "This legislation will bring the full weight of the law to bear on those who exploit our children."

"With the passage of the Jessica Lunsford Act, Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature have stepped up to the plate on behalf of the safety and welfare of our children. This new law sends a strong message to those who prey on innocent children. If you harm a child, the consequences will be much more severe than ever before," FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell said.

Since taking office, Governor Bush has supported and passed several laws to reduce crime and to provide victims with more rights. As a result of this leadership, Florida is experiencing the lowest crime rate in more than 30 years. Some of the Governors
initiatives to protect Floridians against sexual predators include:

Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender Act. This law signed in 2002 imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life for those twice convicted of several sexual offenses, including sexual battery, promoting a sexual performance by a child or lewd or lascivious behavior in the presence of an elder or disabled person. This mandatory minimum applies to those convicted
even a single time of these crimes, if the offense incurred serious injury or involved multiple victims, among other factors.

The Victim's Freedom Act - Signed in 2002, this law makes it easier for victims of sexual violence to obtain injunctions against their attackers, including when their attackers are due to be released from prison. Violators of these injunctions will face criminal contempt penalties and possible felony prosecution for aggravated stalking.

Sexual Victims' Access to Services Act - Also signed in 2002, this law mandates a surcharge of $151 be paid by every person who pleads guilty or no contest to such crimes as battery and sexual assault. The funds are distributed to rape crisis centers around the state, to provide caring and appropriate treatment and law-enforcement services to victims of one of the most traumatic crimes imaginable.

The Governor was joined by legislation sponsors Senator Nancy Argenziano and Representative Dean, Commissioner Tunnell, Kelly May, Sarah Michelle Lunde's mother, Rebekah Lunde, Sarah Michelle Lunde's older sister, Mark Lunsford, Jessica
Lunsford's Father, Ruth Lunsford, Jessica Lunsford's Grandmother, Archie Lunsford, Jessica Lunsford's Grandfather and Roy and Sylvia Brown,

For more information on this bill or any other legislative action taken by Governor Bush, please visit, www.myflorida.com

http://sun6.dms.state.fl.us/eog_new/eog/library/releases/2005/May/2005-05-02-lunsford_act.pdf

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