Governor Lynch Signs Tough New Law To Better Protect Children, Punish Predators

For Immediate Release

June 26, 2006

Contact:
Communications Director
Office of the Governor
603-271-2121

CONCORD - Joined by law enforcement and legislators, Gov. John Lynch today signed a tough comprehensive law to increase punishments for the worst child sexual predators and to give law enforcement and parents new tools to protect children.

"With this legislation, we are taking an important step forward in making New Hampshire a safer place for all our children. New Hampshire will now have among the toughest and most comprehensive child protection laws in the nation. This bill will allow law enforcement and parents to better protect our most precious resource, our children," Gov. Lynch said.

The law establishes a presumption that a criminal who preys sexually on a child under 13 will receive a sentence of 25 years, unless a judge finds - and specifies in writing - there are reasons for a lesser sentence. A second offense would carry a mandatory life sentence.

The law establishes a presumption of a 25-year sentence for knowingly causing permanent bodily injury to a child. It also makes the second-degree murder of a child subject to a sentence of 35 years.

"With this law, we are sending a clear message that if you prey on children in New Hampshire you are going to prison for a long time," Gov. Lynch said. "Sexual predators rob children of their childhoods. The harm that predators do stays with children for the rest of their lives. The punishment predators face will now be commensurate with their crimes and with the lasting damage they inflict."

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 study the development of a GPS monitoring system for offenders; and giving parents better information about whether sexual predators are living in their neighborhoods.

Last summer, Gov. Lynch asked the Attorney General to work with New Hampshire's police chiefs, county attorneys and victims' advocates to undertake a comprehensive assessment of New Hampshire's child protection laws.

"In developing 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. This new law meets those goals," Gov. Lynch said.

Gov. Lynch thanked Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, Senior Assistant Attorney General Will Delker, New Hampshire's police chiefs and county attorneys for their hard work in developing and helping pass the new law.

"Nothing could more important than keeping our children safe. Our children deserve the protection that this law will provide - and sexual predators have earned the tough penalties this law will ensure," Gov. Lynch said.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Peter Batula and Sen. Joe Foster.