Monday, January 30, 2006

S. 997 update: Jessica's Law Plus

I have long been concerned that the penalties for the worst crimes against our most vulnerable citizens, children, carry far too light a punishment. Currently, criminal sexual conduct committed upon a child eleven or younger carries a mandatory sentence of only 10 to 30 years.

I cannot fathom the rationale in sentencing the rapist of a child as young as eleven, or younger, to not more than 30 years when the victim faces a lifetime sentence of fear and humiliation. I filed S. 997 to ensure that sentences for these unspeakable acts fit the crimes.

If passed, this bill will increase the penalty for sexual battery on someone 11 or younger to a minimum of 25 years to life. A second offense carries a minimum of life in prison and the option of imposing the death penalty. In fact, the last time South Carolina executed a criminal for something other than murder was 1972. He was convicted of rape.

Senator McConnell, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has assigned this bill to a subcommittee chaired by Senator Hutto with Senators Knotts , Jackson and myself. I have full confidence that they will give this bill a full and fair hearing, and should this new law face a court challenge I look forward to its review by our new and improved United States Supreme Court.

I’ll keep you posted on the developments with S. 997 and feel free to let me know your thoughts.