Colo. lawmakers to consider law to toughen sentences for sex offenders

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DENVER — “I’m the father of Jessica Lunsford,” said Mark Lunsford as he cried.

Last year, he told his daughter’s story to the Colorado Legislature.  He described how in Florida in 2005, repeat sex offender John Couey kidnapped, raped and buried his daughter alive.

Lunsford says Jessica’s Law would have saved his child. It’s designed to toughen laws against sex offenders.

“If he would have got 25 years he would have never hurt my daughter. Every 25 year sentence is a sentence that they can’t hurt another victim.”

The bill died in the legislature after critics argued Colorado’s sentencing guidelines are strong enough and that discretion should be left to a judge.

That left Colorado as now one of only five states without the law which mandates a 25-year-prison sentence for rape of a child.

The bill’s sponsor, Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, says this year she will try again.

“This is an important bill because I believe we need to reduce the risk of sexual predators on our children,” Szabo said.

She argues Colorado’s existing law may encourage dangerous transplants like Eric Hartwell.

“It would make sense that people who offend may have a better chance of getting away with it if they move to a state that doesn’t have Jessica’s Law or is soft on those types of crimes,” Szabo said.