With the legislative season in many states coming to an end, we are happy to reflect upon some positive changes that occurred within the child safety arena. Since January, multiple states have approved proposals strengthening measures against sex offenders and their online counterparts. We also co-hosted a successful rally to raise awareness for child safety here in Washington, DC, and traveled to Massachusetts to participate in Community Voices' annual advisory board meeting, a partnering organization that supports victims of crime.
Last month, the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee advanced a bill that would make hindering the apprehension and prosecution of a sex offender attempting to evade registration and monitoring requirements under Megan's Law a crime of the third degree with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison. The bill, S-622, is sponsored by Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union) who is an avid supporter of the Jessica Lunsford Act. It is no surprise the legislation is derived from a portion of Jessica's law considering Senator Kean's support for the measure in the past. We applaud Senator Kean and members of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee for taking this important step forward to protect kids from sex offenders.
Also, several states have introduced legislation banning sex offenders from social media sites. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal endorsed a bill that would ban certain sex offenders from Facebook along with other new media sites. Governor Jindal attempted to pass a similar law last year, but a federal judge declared the bill unconstitutional.
In North Carolina, sex offenders are banned from using social media, but the state is finding it hard to define exactly what constitutes a social network. For example, a convicted sexual predator was caught with an active Facebook page and YouTube account. The Facebook account has been suspended, but his YouTube account is still live.
Several states have also passed legislation this month increasing penalties for people who upload or disseminate child pornography on the Internet. Earlier this month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law that increases penalties, including time in prison, for anyone who disseminates child pornography. Iowa lawmakers passed similar legislation.
In an effort to promote these types of legislative efforts, Stop Child Predators teamed up with other child safety organizations on Easter Sunday, such as the Army of Angels, Community Voices, Surviving Parents Coalition and parents of abducted, abused and murdered children. The program featured speeches from Mark Lunsford, father of 9-year old Jessica Lunsford who was abducted, raped and buried alive in 2005, Alicia Kozakiewicz, a survivor of an Internet predator (she was 13 when she was lured by an online acquaintance); Mika Moulton, mother of 10-year old Christopher Meyer who was abducted, stabbed over 50 times and left to die in a shallow grave in 1995; and Cindy and Mark Sconce, parents of 12-year old Courtney Sconce, who was abducted, raped and strangled to death in 2008. The event served as a vital platform to remind parents about the importance of knowing where their kids are at all times, and who they are talking to online. It received media coverage from multiple news sources including Greta Van Susteran, Fox DC and Fox News. Thanks to all who joined us!
Finally, SCP's Stacie Rumenap just returned from Massachusetts where she joined Community Voices for their annual advisory board meeting. This year, the focus of the meeting was on Wena, Community Voices' new four-legged best friend; a trained service dog who offers comfort and support to victims of crime in Massachusetts' courthouses and in communities. Wena is the very first service dog for victims in the state.
As you can see, there is still much more work to be accomplished as we head into summer. We are committed to the goal of seeing Jessica's Law passed in all 50 states while working to strengthen safety nets protecting children on the web.