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Guam's version of Jessica's Law headed to governor's desk

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

A bill proposing stiffer penalties for child predators is headed to the governor's office after breezing through the legislature this week.

Guam senators unanimously passed Sen. Chris Barnett’s Bill 183-37, a measure patterned after Florida's 2005 Jessica's Law.

The bill would increase the mandatory minimum sentence for first and second-degree criminal sexual conduct committed against children by an additional 10 years.

Under Guam's current law, the minimum sentence for a convicted pedophile is 15 years. Bill 183-37 would give judges the discretion to send child predators behind bars for a minimum of 25 years without parole.

"While the bill increases the mandatory minimum sentence for these crimes, I ask judges to be merciless when they hand out punishment to evil pedophiles. After all, these deranged individuals show no mercy to their victims,” Barnett said.

“Every day we read about an evil pedophile harming children. We read about harsh sentences being given to child rapists, then we see these sick offenders paroled early and set free to destroy more lives with their heinous and unforgivable acts,” he added.

If the bill is signed into law, Guam would join 46 states that have adopted

Jessica's Law, which is designed to reduce the risks of sexual offenders repeating the crime by keeping them locked up for 25 years.

“Data shows individuals who prey on children have a high likelihood of recidivism, that’s why it is important to keep pedophiles locked up for a long time. That’s why we must monitor them if they’re released from prison. Bill 183 does that, too,” Barnett said.

Jessica's Law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a young Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in February 2005 by John Couey, a previously convicted sex offender.

“Guam has a major problem with sex crimes committed against children. Bill 183 strengthens our outdated laws and helps keep our kids safe by implementing Jessica’s Law on Guam," Barnett said.

Attorney General Douglas Moylan, the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center and the Healing Hearts Rape Crisis Center endorsed the bill at a public hearing in April.

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