Under politically popular anti-sex offender “Jessica’s Laws,” California will spend nearly $130 million next year tracking child predators. Florida will shell out close to $12 million. Louisiana, the first state to sentence a child sex predator to death, will spend $1 million, says the Dallas Morning News. A version of Jessica’s Law up for a vote in the Texas House today will cost Texans next to nothing for at least five years, say legislative budget analysts.
Critics say that’s impossible. The bill, which authorizes the death penalty or life without parole for repeat child sex offenders, increases sentences for certain first-time child sex offenders, and prohibits early release from prison or parole for violent child sex offenders – would require more money for prison beds and corrections guards, they argue. A Morning News analysis of states with Jessica’s Laws similar to those Texas is considering found that almost all of them had to set aside millions of dollars immediately to follow through on their legislation. Proponents say the bill wouldn’t apply to many offenders; it’s written to catch “the worst of the worst,” and only those inmates will serve lifetime prison sentences.