Florida paedophiles face lifelong satellite tracking

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The Independent US

Spurred by the kidnapping and murder of a nine-year-old girl, the Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, has signed legislation that strengthens punishment and monitoring of child sex abusers.

Spurred by the kidnapping and murder of a nine-year-old girl, the Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, has signed legislation that strengthens punishment and monitoring of child sex abusers.

The Jessica Lunsford Act requires those convicted of preying on children under the age of 12 to be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison and, if they are released, to be tracked for life with the use of a global positioning system device.

The Bill was drafted after Jessica's body was found in March, and sped through the legislative process.

Lawmakers passed the Bill days after another sex offender was charged with the abduction and murder of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde. David Onstott allegedly told police he choked Sarah and dumped her body in a pond. He had been convicted of a sex crime in 1995. The law passed the Senate and House unanimously and was sent to Mr Bush on 22 April. He said that Florida's sex offender laws were already tough, and "this Bill will make our laws even tougher".

A convicted sex offender, John Couey, who lived near Jessica, has been charged with her killing. He allegedly kidnapped her from her bedroom. Mr Couey did not inform the state when he moved into the girl's neighbourhood in Homosassa, 60 miles north of Tampa.

Advocates for satellite monitoring of offenders say that in addition to warning authorities when a sex offender is in a location from which he has been banned - such as near a school - it also will allow for quick pinpointing of suspects if a child is abducted.

The tracking requirement only affects new convictions, but previous offenders who violate their probation would be ordered back to jail or be placed under global positioning system monitoring.

The law also increases the use of the death penalty. It states that an offender's status as sexual predator can be considered as an aggravating factor when judges and juries consider the use of capital punishment.

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