State takes tough stance against sexual predators, Blunt says

By GOV. MATT BLUNT

I recently signed House Bill 1698, modeled after Florida’s Jessica’s Law, fulfilling a promise to impose tough, mandatory prison sentences against sexual predators who destroy our children’s innocence.

We need to be honest with ourselves. Society’s efforts to rehabilitate sex offenders have not been effective. No matter what the program, no matter what the punishment, statistics show us these criminals will re-offend. Sex offenders given too much liberty continue to repeat their heinous crimes and destroy the lives of more children.

We have a responsibility to our children to keep sex offenders off the streets and behind bars. My initiative will keep these dangerous criminals behind bars for a very long time and if they ever get out we will watch them for the rest of their lives.

Missouri’s version of Jessica’s Law, named for 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford of Florida who was raped and brutally murdered by a convicted sex offender, provides our law enforcement community with new tools that strengthen Missouri’s sex offender laws. It mandates a lifetime sentence with a minimum of 30 years served for forcible rape or forcible sodomy when the victim is younger than age 12 and calls for lifetime monitoring for this group of sexual offenders.

The new law increases the penalty for persistent sexual offenders from 30 years to life in prison without eligibility for probation or parole. It also strengthens laws protecting children from predators who use the Internet to access victims, further specifying that laws apply even when a sexual predator is communicating with law enforcement posing as a child and increasing the penalty for enticing, persuading, coaxing, soliciting or luring a child to a felony with a prison term not less than five years. The law also closes potential loopholes surrounding the definition of sexual contact with a student.

Missouri’s new law adds new tools to the state’s sex offender registry and a toll free number that will make registry information more accessible. Under the law sex offender registries would include any known alias, available photos, physical descriptions, qualifying offenses, release date and other new details in addition to the information that is already available.

Missouri’s version of Jessica’s Law will not allow soft-on-crime judges to let evil perpetrators who prey on young children escape with a slap on the wrist. There have been too many instances across our country when our justice system failed to protect our children from these dangerous predators. With this new law, Missouri has taken steps to strengthen protections against sex offenders and hold them accountable for their atrocious crimes.

Last year, we took aggressive steps to track sex offenders as one of the first states that require lifetime global positioning satellite or GPS, tracking of criminals convicted of certain sexual offenses against children as a condition of their parole.

I fought for Missouri’s version of Jessica’s Law because it sends a strong and important message to sexual predators that their crimes will not be tolerated in our state. I care deeply about the future of our children and will continue to be a strong and vocal advocate for their safety.

Matt Blunt is the governor of Missouri.