March 05, 2007
The amended Jessica's Law

As noted by Karen Brooks, the amended HB8 is being debated on the floor. Here's a summary of the changes, as provided to me:


  • The proposed amendment creates a new offense, "Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children", which has been previously described in Representative Madden's HB 436.

  • Continuous sexual abuse means that the perpetrator committed a sex act more than once against a child or children younger than 14 over a period of 90 days, which would indicate this is a habitual sex offender.

  • This language creates a NEW offense, rather than tying in multiple convictions of existing offenses. This is to address concerns that individual, innocuous acts of certain offenses, such as indecency, would not be punishable by the death penalty or life without parole.

  • There is a so-called "Romeo and Juliet" clause in the bill that allows for a defense if the actor was not more than five years older than the victim and the act was consensual.

  • This is to address concerns that a 17 year old senior in high school would not be risking prosecution for sleeping with his 13 year old freshman girlfriend under this act, although this would still be punishable under existing law. (It should be noted that 17 year olds are not eligible for the death penalty under ANY circumstances, whether this bill is in effect or not, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Roper v. Simms.)

  • A first conviction of this new crime would carry a 25 year minimum sentence, and parole would still be an option after at least that amount of time. This is intended to address concerns that removing the possibility of parole removes incentives to seek treatment while incarcerated. The original language in HB 8 that prevented parole on a first offense has been removed.

  • A second conviction of this new crime would be punishable as a capital offense.

  • There are several safeguards in the bill to protect the state's existing death penalty, as well as the sentences imposed on offenders, in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the expansion of the penalty set forward by HB 8.

  • The bill retains the language regarding the extension of the statute of limitations for sex offenses, but language related to the GPS monitoring of sex offenders has been removed.

Vince has more.

UPDATE: It passed.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 05, 2007 to That's our Lege

A 13 year old is not a freshman. She is a 7th or 8th grader.

Posted by: muse on March 5, 2007 9:52 PM

I am just appalled by the shameless hypocrisy of so many of our state leaders. The Legislature is full of bills punishing and restricting sex offenders - several of which are probably unconstitutional. HB 8 is just the start. But today's Chronicle reports that there have been 6,600 allegations of abuse in our state youth facilities, but only 18 prosecutions. This appears to be blatant pandering by politicians, creating a fear of the sex offender down the street, but completely ignoring the huge issue of sexual abuse in state facilities for which they themselves are responsible. This is truly criminal and immoral.

Posted by: Norm on March 6, 2007 6:29 AM