Friday, April 08, 2005

"Jessica's Law"

John Couey, Jessica Lunsford's alleged kidnapper, rapist and murderer, has a criminal record spanning 30 years. One of the people who should have been aware that he was a registered sex offender was his probation officer, but, unfortunately, that information may be scattered and not easily available to officials.

In August, sheriff's deputies arrested [Couey] on a minor drug charge, [Mary Doyle, Citrus court representative for the Salvation Army] said. That new offense constituted a violation of his probation terms.

For violating the DUI probation, a judge sent him to jail for 59 days, court records showed. The judge put him on probation for the drug charge.

When Couey got out of jail, Doyle said, he didn't check in with probation as required. So her office sent notices to Couey's listed address, 7421 Grover Cleveland Blvd. in Homosassa.

The notices went unanswered, so officials arranged for a violation of probation warrant on Dec. 2. But no one went looking for him; the warrant just sat in the system, ready to be served whenever Couey came into contact with law enforcement.

Couey eventually moved into a mobile home on Snowbird Court in Homosassa, across the road from Jessica's home.
Shortly after Couey confessed telling authorities where he'd buried Jessica's body, Jessica's Petition was written, publicized and quickly withdrawn with an explanation that a new one would be forthcoming.

There is no longer a need for a petition to encourage our state lawmakers to strengthen the laws involving sexual offenders and predators.

The Jessica Marie Lunsford Act ("Jessica's Law") is working its way through both houses of the state legislature.

In addition to tougher sentences for those who prey upon children, it would require GSP tracking of sexual offenders and predators who will be released, and require judges to order electronic monitoring of sex criminals convicted of crimes against children any time they violate their probation, even for technical violations such as failing to check in.

The proposed law would also make it a felony to harbor a sex offender without notifying law enforcement.

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Welcome Carniival of the Trackbacks VI.

UPDATE: May 3, 2005

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