Resident asks for council’s support for Jessica Lunsford bill

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GALLOWAY – Resident Anna Jezycki wanted to make sure council still supported her efforts to have a Jessica Lunsford act passed in New Jersey.

They left no doubt – each speaking approval of New Jersey having a law designed to punish sex offenders and reduce their ability to re-offend.

Mayor Don Purdy said a resolution would be prepared for the next council meeting stating Galloway’s support for instituting such a law.

Jezycki spoke at the Tuesday, Feb. 28 council meeting.

She said she attended a Feb. 21 Meet Your Legislators session with the District 9 senator and assembly members and felt rebuffed by Sen. Christopher J. Connors on the issue.

“They said they wanted to hear what was on our minds,” she told The Current Wednesday, Feb. 29. “But then he didn’t react well to hearing my concern that there was no movement on the Jessica Lunsford Act.”

Connors introduces a bill in each Senate session, but it has never made it as far as a committee vote.

“I was not pleased with the way he handled my question,” Jezycki said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “He was abrupt at times – a little on the rude side.”

As the council members affirmed their support for Jezycki and her organization, CUFFS - Community United for Family Safety, Councilman Dennis Kleiner said he would contact associates in the Legislature to find out why the measure has been stalled.

Councilman Brian Tyrrell suggested that the American Civil Liberties Union is interested in preserving the rights of predators.

Councilman Tom Bassford said he wasn’t at the Meet Your Legislators meeting.

“But in defense of Sen. Connors, he introduces bills,” Bassford said. “He can only do so much as a member of the minority party. We have to get it out of committee; make them (legislators) take a stand.”

Purdy said Wednesday that was the key – bringing the issue to a vote.

He also said he would accompany Jezycki to Trenton to meet with some key players – including Connors.

CUFFS is a watchdog organization formed by Jezycki in 2004. It has about 30 members and focuses on pedophiles and protecting children.

The proposed bill is named for Jessica Lunsford, a young Florida girl who was sexually battered and murdered in February 2005 by a previously convicted sex offender.

Public outrage spurred Florida officials to pass legislation which is the model for laws that have been introduced in 42 states.

There are four similar bills buried in committee in the New Jersey Legislature.

Asked Wednesday if she felt better getting council’s reaffirmation of support, Jezycki said she did.

“I knew they would,” she said. “I know that they are all caring people. But I had to bring it forward again.”

Another reason, she said she approached council because there are some new members.

“Whitney Ullman and Brian Tyrrell have joined council since this was really taken up as an issue,” Jezycki said. “It’s a good cause and I was glad to see that we have their support.”

Key Jessica Lunsford provisions include classifying lewd or lascivious molestation of a child younger than 12 as a life felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and lifetime electronic monitoring.

Jezycki said she thinks some people are opposed to the mandatory 25-year prison sentence and that is understandable.

“I don’t think someone who comes out of a bar drunk and exposes himself – and there happen to be kids around – deserves a 25-year sentence,” she said.

She also said exceptions could be made including cases of youngsters who are around the same age.

“Probably the law needs to be tweaked,” Jezycki said. “If that’s what it takes, let’s tweak it.”

 

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