(Host) The Senate Judiciary Committee will recommend a stronger law for sexual crimes against children.
The panel expects to propose a new statute – aggravated assault against a child younger than 16.
Committee Chairman Dick Sears of Bennington says anyone convicted under the law would go to prison for a minimum of 25 years – and a maximum of life.
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Sears said the proposal would be different from what many consider “Jessica’s law.”
(Sears) “This is a Vermont law that I think reaches a consensus on our committee at least and says we consider this an extremely serious crime that needs to be dealt with in a very firm, fair and consistent manner.”
(Host) The committee also wants to see special units created soon in every region of the state to investigate sex crimes.
The Legislature has already approved the units, but Sears says they need to be developed more quickly.
Sears says it will take money to enact all of the recommendations.
(Sears) “We’re going to have to spend it if we’re really serious about dealing with this problem and protecting Vermont kids. Where are our priorities. As a member of the appropriations Committee we’ll do our best to come up with ways. But there are things that might have to go lacking in order to accomplish this.”
(Host) The Judiciary Committee will hold its final public hearing on the issue tonight in Burlington. It will release its draft proposals tomorrow and a formal legislative bill will be drafted next month.