From The Office of Governor John Lynch
CONCORD - Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Gov. John Lynch called on the state Senate to restore mandatory minimum sentences for the worst child sexual predators to his proposed Child Protection Act.
"As you consider this legislation, the first step that I ask you to take is to restore the mandatory minimum sentences for people who sexually prey on children under the age of 13," Gov. Lynch said.
"Sexual predators rob children of their childhoods. The harm that sexual predators do to their young victims stays with these children the rest of their lives. The punishment that sexual predators face should be commensurate with their crimes and with the lasting damage that they inflict. I strongly believe that a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years is an appropriate punishment."
Under the original version of the legislation, prosecutors would have had the ability to pursue mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for sex offenders who prey on children under the age of 13 and for offenders who permanently injure a child under the age of 13.
"It's time for us to send a clear message: If you prey on children in New Hampshire, we will send you to prison - and we're going to keep you there for a long time," Gov. Lynch said.
Gov. Lynch worked with the Attorney General, police chiefs, county prosecutors, victims' advocates and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to develop HB 1692, sponsored by Rep. Peter Batula and Sen. Joe Foster.
Last summer, Gov. Lynch asked the Attorney General to conduct a comprehensive review of New Hampshire's child protection laws. The assessment reviewed New Hampshire's current laws, Jessica's Laws in Florida, and other innovative child protection laws across the nation.
The legislation, House Bill 1692, contains more than 25 provisions, aimed at better protecting New Hampshire's children. In addition to toughening penalties, it includes provisions improving registration and monitoring of sex offenders; requiring the Department of Corrections to develop a GPS monitoring system for offenders; and giving parents better information about whether sexual predators are living in their neighborhoods.
"As we worked to develop this legislation, I had several goals - to protect the young victims of these crimes; to deter criminals from committing these acts; to ensure that sexual predators received the tough penalties they deserve; and to lessen the chance of sexual offenders preying on new victims, "Gov. Lynch said. "Nothing could more important than keeping our children safe and our children deserve the protection that this legislation would provide in its original form."