Iowa’s local prosecutors are asking legislators not to rush through changes in Iowa’s sex offender laws. The Legislature is considering tougher penalties in the wake of the death of a 10-year-old Cedar Rapids girl who was allegedly molested and killed by a man convicted of previous sex crimes. Washington County Attorney Barbara Edmondson is the president of the Iowa County Attorneys Association. “We want to consider this more carefully and not just make a proposal now that we might say in a year, ‘Oh, well, I wish we’d thought of something (else) because now we see other issues,'” Edmondson says. She is concerned about legislators’ intention to double the penalty for committing lascivious acts with a child. Edmondson believes some accused sex offenders will see that 10-year prison sentence and be less inclined to plea guilty, forcing more young kids who’ve been molested to testify in court. “It puts more pressure on the victim and that can be problematic,” she says. “It can be very, very hard on the victim to go through a trial.” Edmondson also warns legislators their revived effort to establish a “safe zone” so sex offenders can’t legally live near a school or day care will be struck down, again, by the courts. Edmondson defended the old, two-thousand foot distance requirement in court when a sex offender in Washington County sued, saying it left him no place to live. Senator Chuck Larson, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, is unafraid of another court skirmish. “(Sex) offenders can find a place to live outside the 1,000 feet (from a school or day care), and if it means moving outside of Cedar Rapids, so much the better,” Larson says. The Senate Judiciary Committee meets at nine o’clock this (Thursday) morning to debate the bill already passed by the House seeks to crack down on sex offenders, including a provision that paroled sex offenders wear an electronic bracelet so their movements may be monitored.
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