Two bills, HB 228 and 3SHB 86, comprise Utah’s version of “Jessica’s Law.” Both are sponsored by freshman Representative Carl Wimmer (R-SL Co.) – District 52, and are now on the calendar for consideration by the full Senate. HB 228 amends the Utah Criminal Code to provide that murder of a child younger than 14 years of age is a capital felony. Third Substitute HB 86 amends provisions of the Criminal Code relating to penalties for sexual offenses and child kidnapping.
While testifying in support of both bills, Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero said, “There’s great pressure on the state of Utah from outside the state to pass a Jessica’s Law. We are pleased to have worked closely with Representative Wimmer to craft a policy that avoids the long-standing objections in Utah to minimum mandatory sentencing and still creates the high standard Utahns expect and want reflected in their laws regarding such heinous crimes against children.” Sutherland helped to develop what is now called the “standard minimum” policy that sets a high bar in sentencing and allows the judges’ discretion to factor in mitigating or aggravating circumstances.