Local News

N.C. Considers Tougher Penalties For Repeat Child Sex Offenders

Posted May 8, 2006

— North Carolina lawmakers want to put more bite in the law to protect children against child predators.

Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, is among a group of lawmakers behind a series of bills that would toughen sex offender laws in North Carolina.

"We don't need a tragedy in North Carolina like the one that happened in Florida. It was awful," he said.

Stevens is referring to the case of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Last year, the Florida girl was snatched from her home, molested and killed by a repeat sex offender.

Mark Lunsford, Jessica's father, had the ear of some lawmakers when his nationwide campaign to pass

Jessica's Law

made a stop in the Triangle.

"I don't want another family to have to go through what I've gone through," he said.

Jessica's Law proposes a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison for convicted child predators. One major component of the proposals state lawmakers plan to introduce would increase the penalty for repeat sex offenders.

Another component calls for a more reliable registration and tracking system state lawmakers want to fund at a cost of $300,000.

"The bill would say that they would actively have the GPS system and we'll know where they are at all times," Sen. Russell Capps, R-Wake, said.

For their part, Capps said the measures should be a priority for lawmakers based on his estimates. There are an estimated 10,000 sex offenders now living in North Carolina.

Versions of Jessica's Law passed in Florida, Connecticut, Ohio and Louisiana. Lawmakers in California and Texas are currently considering similar measures.

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