FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Senator Ted Gatsas
(603) 271 – 2111
April 6, 2006
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Tuesday April 4th on a bill that has become known as the sexual predator bill. I do not like that title as I firmly believe the focus should be on the children and the title should reflect that.
I despise those predators who assault our children and we need to do everything we can to protect them. That is why the bill should be known as the KEEPING OUR KIDS SAFE Act. The Governor and Attorney General’s Office and House members have all worked long and hard to craft this bill and I applaud them for those efforts. The bill is designed to address issues surrounding those cases of sexual assault on our youngest children. The bill includes changes to the law regarding the registration of sex offenders after they are released. The bill has a section for involuntary commitment for those violent sex offenders who are still a danger after the criminal process has been exhausted. There is a section to study using GPS technology to track offenders.
It is important to note that the most effective portion of the bill was unfortunately removed by the House before the bill was sent to the Senate. The original bill contained a provision allowing prosecutors to seek a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life for certain offenses including those involving aggravated felonious sexual assault of a child under the age of 13. This 25 year minimum sentence would not automatically be given to any defendant convicted of sexual assault on a minor. Instead the sentence could be requested by prosecutors only for certain offenses listed in the bill including aggravated felonious sexual assault of a minor under the age of 13. If the prosecutor determined that the case warranted a minimum sentence of 25 years to life he or she could provide notice and if the defendant was found guilty the judge would be required to impose the minimum sentence of 25 years. This is a vital tool that we must give to prosecutors. The current law provides that if the prosecutor requests a sentence of 25 years there is no guarantee that such a sentence will be imposed by the judge. There have been many cases where a sex offender after serving the sentence has been released and then committed another sexual assault. A minimum sentence of 25 years may well have prevented these crimes from occurring and sparred the victims a lifetime sentence of trauma. We must send a message to these criminals that they cannot continue to abuse our children.
I urge you to contact your senators to vote in favor of an amendment that would restore the option of a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence. The doors of the New Hampshire State Senate, including mine, are open for House Members and the public to visit with us to understand the urgent need for New Hampshire to put this type of criminal away for along, long time.
Senator Ted Gatsas
Senator Ted Gatsas serves the Senate President, he represents, Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett and Manchester Wards,1, 2 and 12.