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Md. House and Senate toughen Jessica's law

March 29, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - The House and the Senate have each passed a state bill to tighten penalties for sex crimes committed against children.

The measure, known as "Jessica's Law," imposes mandatory minimum sentences for adults convicted of the most serious sex crimes against children.

Offenders will have to serve at least 25 years, eliminating the possibility of parole.

"This was a major victory for the safety of our citizens," Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who sponsored the House version, said Tuesday.

A similar requirement of mandatory minimum sentences for certain lesser sex crimes was removed from his bill before it passed.

The House passed its version 138-0 on Monday. The Senate bill passed 43-3 the same day.

Shank sponsored a separate bill to label sexual abuse of a minor as a crime of violence. Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick, filed the same bill.

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Hecht's version passed the House 139-0. Shank withdrew his bill.

A Senate version of Hecht's bill passed the Senate 47-0.

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