The number of registered sex offenders in the United States is more than 700,000. Every 40 seconds a child is reported missing or abducted, according to the Department of Justice. That translates to over 2,000 children per day, and over 800,000 per year. This is why we began Stop Child Predators, and why our work continues to be so pressing.
It should come as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of Americans support laws to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans say corrections systems should be allowed to hold sex offenders indefinitely if they believe the offender will strike again, according to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Similarly, 72% of adults say the names of convicted sex offenders should remain on a public registry even after they have fulfilled their sentences and parole or probation periods. Sixteen percent (16%) disagree, and 12% are undecided. Americans overwhelmingly favor public registries for sex offenders like the ones that are now standard in all 50 states, the survey finds. Eighty-three percent (83%) support such registries, with only seven percent (7%) opposed.
As a loyal supporter of SCP, you know we are committed to child safety both off-and-online.
We started SCP five years ago in the wake of the abduction, rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford, the nine-year-old Florida girl whose abductor was a twice-convicted sex offender and worked at Jessica's school.
Three years ago, we considered the threats that might be posed to children online so we entered the world of online safety by launching Stop Internet Predators. Our commitment to this effort remains, and we will continue to push for stricter laws in 2011 penalizing those who prey on children online.
As we reach our fifth anniversary, we are more determined then ever to ensure children's safety in all 50 states. To that end, we are re-energizing our efforts to enact "Jessica's Law" in the six states that have not yet passed it. Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, chairs our organization's advisory board and shares our passion to reach this goal. It is largely through his dedication and activism that 44 states have embraced the spirit of Jessica's Law which is mandatory sentences and electronic monitoring for convicted child sex offenders.
States without Jessica's Law include Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. If you live in any of these states, please contact your legislators and tell them you support these tough measures. Ask your friends to do the same - we need everyone's help to ensure Jessica's Law is enacted in all 50 states.
Already this year, we traveled to New York to assess the political landscape and lay the groundwork for re-introduction of Jessica's Law. We are also working in Colorado, Idaho and New Jersey to find supporters to introduce a bill. And, we will be in Florida this week promoting child safety legislation, and thanking law enforcement officials for taking the lead on enforcing Jessica's Law.
In summary, Jessica's Law:
- Increases the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory minimum 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring.
- Increases, from 20 to 30 years, the period of time before a sexual predator is allowed to petition to have the sexual predator designation removed.
- Increases sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements.
- Designates failing to re-register as a sexual offender/predator or harboring or assisting a sexual predator/offender a third degree felony.
- Requires those already convicted of sex crimes to have electronic monitoring for the remainder of their probation.
Despite efforts by state and federal lawmakers to manage sex offenders, challenges to preventing sexual crimes against children remain. One of the most formidable issues is a high recidivism rate, which means that a sex offender is likely to repeat their crime. This is why mandatory sentences are so important when it comes to protecting children from known child sex offenders, and is critical for two reasons: first, they are effective in keeping sex offenders off the streets and away from our children; second, they can serve as a deterrent to sex offenders who may otherwise recommit an offense.
Our support of mandatory sentences inspired us to kick off the year by putting together a state-by-state report card on child safety in America. This will help us focus our efforts on the states that are most in need of our attention. Through comprehensive media, grassroots and legislative campaigns, we are providing information about the importance of passing Jessica's Law in the six hold-out states in order to have ALL of America's children protected from sexual predators.
So please join our efforts to pass Jessica's Law.