A proposed Wisconsin law that would set stiff minimum mandatory sentences for sex offenders who target children would increase the state’s prison population by 9,000 over 25 years, requiring nine new prisons at a cost of more than $400 million, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jessica’s Law, named for Florida rape-murder victim Jessica Lunsford, is being considered by legislatures around the nation.
It is touted as a get-tough measure that protects children from incorrigible sex predators. Two Wisconsin prosecutors’ organizations oppose it, in part because they believe it would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of cases that go to trial. The 25-year-minimum mandatory sentence in the legislation, the groups say, would leave defendants with no incentive to plead guilty and spare victims a painful trial. The bill’s sponsors say cost predictions are overblown and insist minimum mandatory prison terms for child sex offenses need to be set because too many offenders get soft sentences and are a risk to re-offend.