Local Child Advocates In Favor Of 'Jessica Lunsford Act' - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/02/05 - East Texas

Local Child Advocates In Favor Of 'Jessica Lunsford Act'

by Ramonica R. Jones

Named after a nine-year-old Florida girl found raped and killed more than a month ago, the Jessica Lunsford Act targets offenders who sexually assault kids 12 and under.

Officer Paul Jackson said, "I think the pedophile, the child molester, is a unique criminal from a guy that robs stores or burglarizes homes.  People like that have something else going on mentally, and I believe that's why they put the emphasis on children."

The number of sex offender convictions in East Texas is rising. That's why child advocates would like to see a similar law passed in our area.

Cathy Pavlic of the Angelina Alliance for Children said, "There are certainly cases where we know that even after they've served [time in] prison, they have been released only to sexually assault a child again."

Under the Jessica Lunsford Act, a convicted child predator who gets out of prison must wear an electronic monitoring device permanently; something local officers who track sex offenders say is necessary, but hard to enforce.

"How fast will it notify [authorities] when the person has absconded?" asked Officer Jackson.  "It's a step in the right direction. We just have to see how good the technology is."

That means sex offenders who prey on kids can still re-offend, but they're likely to be put away a lot longer than the average criminal.

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