Hawaii Lawmakers Aim to Strengthen Laws Against Sex Offenders Targeting Children

Jessica Lunsford
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Jessica Lunsford

Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped from her home in Florida by 46-year-old John Couey after he broke into her home at 3 a.m. in 2005.

Couey, a convicted sex offender who lived nearby in a trailer, raped Jessica over three days before brutally murdering her by burying her alive in two garbage bags. After confessing to the crimes, he was sentenced to death on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and capital sexual battery.


Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, helped get passed new legislation that makes life tougher for convicted sex offenders.  The legislation was named the Jessica Lunsford Act allows law enforcement to more closely track sex offenders, can require sex offenders to wear electronic tracking devices and mandates increased prison sentences.

Other states passed “Jessica’s Law” mandating a minimum sentence of 25 years and maximum life in prison for first time sex offenders who attack children. (See specifics of the legislation)

Hawaii is not tough enough on child predators, according to Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, who wants to change that. The East Oahu Republican introduced Jessica’s legislation in this session and hopes Hawaii will become the next state to mandate that sex offenders who abuse children will spend at least 25 years in prison.

SB 799 and SB 1223 require electronic monitoring for those who sexually assault of a minor and it establishes mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for felony sexual assault of a minor.

“It is unacceptable that Hawaii, whose lawmakers are always talking about doing things ‘for the Keiki’ have long neglected basic protection of our children against sexual predators,” Slom said. “Some think even a 25 year minimun sentence is too lenient but it is better than Hawaii’s current 2 year sentence. Nationally, several organizations have taken note of our indefensible position. Even though it is late, now must be the year we act and tell the monsters who prey on our children we will stop you.”

Senators Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Michelle Kidani, Clarence Nishihara, Brian Taniguchi, Glenn Wakai and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, signed on as co-introducers of the legislation. The Honolulu city prosecutor’s office will be supporting similar legislation, according to spokesperson Dave Koga.

Political Commentator Bill O’Reilly has made a push for Jessica’s Law to be enacted in every state. A map on his web site shows Hawaii is one of just 6 states that has lax laws for child sex offenders.

In a commentary on his web site, O’Reilly said: “These outrageous crimes could have been prevented, which is why I am calling on every state in the union to pass a version of ‘Jessica’s Law.’ The legislation is named after little Jessica Lunsford, who was just 9 years old when her life was brutally ended by a sexual predator who had previously been convicted of sex crimes against a child. The crime forced Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature to mandate stiff minimum sentences for child abusers, who had all too often been slapped on the wrist by lenient judges.”

“There is simply no question that Jessica’s Law will save lives, and similar laws need to be instituted in every state. … This is literally a life-and-death battle to save our youngest and most vulnerable citizens from abuse, torture, and murder.”

Map courtesy of Bill O’Reilly






  1. You can put a zillion years for this type of crime and you will still rarely get it as a sentence.

    Most charges lead to a plea deal. You think the prosecutor is going to take every case to trial so as to get the 25 years? Do you think he will take a majority of them to trial to get the 25 years? Do you think he will, as now, take a small majority of them to trial? See, you are not going to change a sentence by that much when IF a person can get 2 years now, tomorrow they will get 25? Do you think that is how it will be? All you will get in the majority of cases is they plead guilty to something else that carries the sentence the D.A. and defense attorney has come to agreement on. And the D.A. negoitates based upon strength of case, and the interest of justice.

    • As usual, the reporter has no idea of the facts surrounding the Megans Law.. the US DOJ did a study in 2009, and found that 90% of all child abuse and molestation is done by parents, relatives, or someone who knows the child, not strangers. Its also interesting to note that Couey had asked the State of Florida multiple times for mental health counseling and was TURNED DOWN. In the state of NJ, a finding by the DOC (Dept of Corrections) did a study measuring sex crimes, 10 years before megans law and 10 years after,, Megans Law has had NO EFFECT…
      Feel good laws are great, but they DONT PROTECT OUR CHILDREN… arresting teens for sexting and putting people in jail for Porn will not make a safer world.

  2. According to the map above, it is worth noting that New Jersey, the State which authored Megan's law is "heading in the wrong direction." Makes one wonder what the actual (unstated of course,) mission of these new laws are.

  3. I've been involved where the person convicted of rape was with me at the time and got life. Everyone lied and now my friend is in jail. It goes both ways and I'm left wondering what to do next. No investigation, no evidence, prosecutors lying and the judge shooting down everything the defense attorney brought up.

    Of course if someone sexually assaults the penalties should be solid. In that same breath, when people lie, those parties should be held accountable.

  4. Wow, look at all the people worrying about the rapist instead of the victim. Hawaii is one sick state.

    • @lydiasdad, I hope one day one of your sons are daughters or you are accused of something,,, so you can see screwed up our legal system is

  5. Most all sex laws are knee-jerk reactions to an act of kidnap and murder–.001 of 1% of all sex crimes; yet, all sex offenders are harassed by these laws. Purely political and nonsense.

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