SENATORS OPPOSE MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sen. Lou D'Allesandro

P: 603 271-2600

E: dalas@leg.state.nh.us

Contact: Sen. Iris Estabrook

P: 603 271-2675

E: iris.estabrook@leg.state.nh.us

Contact: Sen. David Gottesman

P: 603 271-2735

E: david.gottesman@leg.state.nh.us

Thursday, April 13, 2006

CONCORD , NH - The New Hampshire Senate today passed HB 1692, legislation that includes tough new sentences for the worst child sexual predators. However, the Senate restored a provision allowing prosecutors to seek mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for people who prey on children under the age of 13.

State Senators Lou D'Allesandro, D-District 20, Iris Estabrook,D-District 21, and David Gottesman, D-District 12, opposed the restoration of mandatory minimum sentences. HB 1692, as passed by the House, already contained tough child protection provisions, but did not contain the mandatory minimum sentencing language.

"I am fully in support of the legislation passed by the House," stated Deputy Democratic Leader Lou D'Allesandro. "This bill strongly protected children from some of the most dangerous offenders in the state. I do, however, take exception to the mandatory minimum sentences, and worry about unintended consequences."

"I strongly support enhanced penalties for criminals who prey on children, but I could not support HB 1692 as passed by the Senate," said Sen. David Gottesman. "The state needs to let judges fulfill their role in the judicial system. We have impartial judges, who listen to all of the evidence presented, and decide appropriate penalties. We should encourage tougher sentences, but not remove judges from the sentencing process."

The Senators cited concerns that victims would not report crimes, and the legislation could reduce criminal prosecution because of mandatory minimums.

Sen. Iris Estabrook cited her consistent opposition to mandatory minimum sentences for first offenses as the reason for her opposition to HB 1692 as amended by the Senate. "I'm afraid that mandatory minimum sentencing will lead to more victims choosing not to report crimes, since so many cases involve perpetrators known to the victim. Advocates for victims are concerned that fewer and fewer convictions will be made under this one size fits all solution."