Governor Applauds House Passage of Child Protection Act

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch applauded the House> '> s passage today of the Child Protection Act as an important step forward in better protecting New Hampshire> '> s children, but pledged to work with the Senate to restore the tougher penalties for the worst sexual predators included in his original legislation.

Gov. Lynch developed the Child Protection Act by working with Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, police chiefs, county attorneys, victims' advocates and lawmakers. The act is a comprehensive reform of New Hampshire's laws to better protect children from sexual predators, to give families access to better information about predators, and toughen punishments on predators.

"We must make sure we are doing everything possible to protect New Hampshire's children. The Child Protection Act is a comprehensive reform of our state> '> s laws to increase protections for children, to give families better information about predators, and to give law enforcement better tools for dealing with predators. I applaud the House for taking an important step forward for New Hampshire's children by overwhelmingly supporting the Child Protection Act," Gov. Lynch said.

"However, I disagree strongly with the House's decision to remove the proposed mandatory minimum sentences for the worst sexual offenders and I will work with the Senate to restore that provision," Gov. Lynch said.

The provision removed by the House would allow prosecutors to seek mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for predators who sexually assault children under the age of 13 or cause permanent brain injury to children under the age of 13. Prosecutors could choose not to seek the mandatory minimum sentences when it was in the best interest of the victim.

"The mandatory minimum sentences we proposed would apply to the worst offenders who prey on the most vulnerable victims. The harm these predators do will stay with their young victims for the rest of their lives; the punishment should be commensurate with the crime," Gov. Lynch said.