OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma House passed legislation Wednesday that would increase prison sentences for sex offenders who abuse children. The measure, approved 99-0, would increase the penalty for sex offenses against children under 12 to a minimum sentence of 25 years. No minimum sentence currently exists for the offenses.
The bill is modeled after laws in Florida and other states and is known as ``Jessica's Law'' after Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped and killed by a registered sex offender who had been living near her.
``This is a bill that increases the penalties for some of the vilest criminals that walk the earth,'' said state Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, the bill's author. ``Too often, sex offenders come back to our communities where they can prey on innocent children, and we need to take additional steps so that doesn't happen.''
The measure now goes to the Senate, where a similar bill died last year.
``It's been backed up by scientific study that it's nearly impossible to cure sex offenders, and that they are likely to repeat their crimes if given the chance. We can't give them that chance,'' Dank said.
The measure is House Bill 1816.