The Iowa House is insisting on electronic bracelets for every dangerous sex offender who is released from prison. The Senate had voted to let prison officials decide which released felons with a sex crime history should be monitored electronically. Representative Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says the bill also establishes longer prison sentences for child abusers and makes the state’s sex abuse registry better. “This is a good bill and this is a tough bill,” Paulsen says. If the bill becomes law, the prison sentences for sex offenders would no longer be shortened for “good behavior” behind bars if the felon refused to undergo treatment and counseling. “I don’t know if this would have been in place…a couple of months ago if this would have been adequate protection for Jetseta Gage but I can tell you this, if it had been in the law, Roger Bentley would have been in prison longer, he would have been on supervised release, he would have been electronically monitored and he would have had a risk assessment done,” Paulsen says. “In the worst case scenario, as soon as he left that home with her, they could have pulled up the electronic monitoring and figured out where he was and hopefully could have saved her.” Bentley is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids. The girl was to testify against Bentley’s brother, who was accused of abusing her. Representative Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the big question is whether there’ll be enough money to pay for electronic monitoring. “This bill has the potential to make our children safer in this state if we fund it,” Hogg says. The Senate-passed state budget plan does include money to buy electronic bracelets and the surveillance equipment, plus hire people to monitor the movements of sex offenders.
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