Two republican senators today (Monday) said they’ll introduce legislation on the first day of the new session to toughen the sentences given to sexual predators. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says the change would cover people who sexually abuse children 12 and under.
He says, “We’re proposing that for those offenses, the penalty be a minimum of 25 years in prison, up to life in prison. Essentially what were saying with this proposal is we will have a zero tolerance in Iowa for people who prey on young children.” Lamberti says the proposed change would allow an offender to be put away for the rest of their life. He says that would be up to the judge’s discretion based on the individual’s potential risk to re-offend.
Senator Larry McKibben, a republican from Marshalltown, says the bill is based on “Jessica’s Law” passed in the state of Florida. McKibben says it will also cover people who might try to hide sex offenders. He says they are going to spend some time looking at people who harbor sex offenders and he says “We will find a place for those folks also in the bill as we announce it.”
Lamberti says a case that just happened would fall under this bill. He says the man who was arrested Sunday in Polk County, had prior arrests for abusing young boys in Scott County. Lamberti says if this new law were in effect the man would not have been released from prison until 2025.
McKibben says it sends a message to sex offenders. McKibben says, “We think that this meets the need of keeping off the streets the people who’re most likely to offend.” McKibben says there’s a very high rate of repetition among people who re-offend against young people. Lamberti says they set the age at 12 or younger to be very clear about their target. He says, “There’s no gray area here. We’re not talking about two teenagers, we’re not talking about a mistake. If you commit a sex act with an individual who is 12 years or younger, an you are an adult there’s no gray area. And that’s why we want to hold them accountable. That’s a pedophile.”
Lamberti and McKibben say they haven’t discussed the issue with democrats yet, but they say the issue passed unanimously in Florida, and they expect the same here in Iowa.