Sutherland Newsletter – January 31, 2008

1.”Jessica’s Law” Receives Unanimous Vote in the House

A bill supported by the Sutherland Institute, which would increase the penalties for heinous child sex offenses, unanimously passed the House today.  The vote was followed by a standing ovation in the House Gallery.


Under HB 256: Criminal Penalties Amendments — Including Jessica’s Law, sponsored by Representative Carl Wimmer, penalties for rape, object rape of a child, and sodomy of a child, would increase to 25 years to life in prison.  The bill would also make attempted sexual assaults on a child first-degree felonies punishable by 15 years to life.

This bill was modeled after Florida’s Jessica Lunsford Act, which was named after a 9-year-old girl who was abducted, raped and murdered by a neighbor and repeat sex offender.  Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, and Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, were in the House today as the vote was tallied.  The proposed legislation will now be considered by the Utah Senate.


2.HB 33 Establishes New Accountability for Government Employees

A bill supported by Sutherland Institute, that would help protect families from needless government intrusions, received unanimous approval in the House today.  Sponsored by Representative Greg Hughes, HB 33: Waivers of Immunity – Exceptions, would create a vital exception to the standard immunity granted to government employees if they intentionally or knowingly engage in malicious conduct, especially in child welfare matters.  As the law now stands, only law enforcement officers can be sued for harmful misconduct.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.