Pennsylvania legislators may pass a version of “Jessica’s Law,” named for the 9-year-old Florida girl who was molested and murdered, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The legislation, which is also being considered by other states, would increase penalties for convicted sex offenders and require live tracking when they are released from prison. Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, choked back tears at Pennsylvania’s Capitol yesterday as he spoke on behalf of the legislation.
The legislation would require that offenders be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison, then wear tracking system devices for life. Second-time offenders receive life imprisonment. The child protection zone around schools, child care centers, and playground would extend 5,000 feet. Sex offenders have a national recidivism rate of about 70 percent over four years, compared with a rate of about 46 percent over three years for all felonies in the state, says the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Pennsylvania had about 7,100 registered sex offenders as of December, 92 of whom are considered “sexually violent predators.”