State News

Gov. Easley to sign Jessica's Law

Posted July 28, 2008 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2008 5:54 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley is scheduled to sign into law a measure which sets minimum prison sentences for some child sex offenders.

Easley will approve the legislation, known as Jessica's Law, Monday in Gastonia. The plan is named after former Gaston County resident Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in Florida in 2005.

The governor will be joined by Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, who asked North Carolina lawmakers to approve the legislation last year.

Jessica's Law requires adult offenders who commit certain sex crimes against children under the age of 13 to be sent to prison for at least 25 years. Offenders who are released would be monitored by a Global Positioning System satellite for life. They also would be restricted from entering some areas where children congregate, such as children's museums, playgrounds and child care centers. Sex offenders also would be barred from entering school grounds without written permission from a superintendent.

The plan creates new crimes for people who commit rape or other sexual offenses against a child younger than 13. It also boosts the penalties for several sex-related offenses involving children, including promoting prostitution of a minor and sexual exploitation.

In the wake of Lunsford's death, several states have ratcheted up penalties for child sex offenders.