Committee likely to recommend lengthy mandatory minimum sentences

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(Host) The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the panel is likely to recommend lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for egregious sex crimes.

Bennington Senator Dick Sears is directing the committee’s review of the criminal justice system following the kidnapping and murder this summer of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett.

Sears said he would like to give prosecutors the authority to seek tougher sentences.

(Sears) “And in these types of sex abuse cases or sex crimes against children, some of them are so egregious that I think they call for the ability for the prosecutors to use the longer mandatory minimum, maybe 25 years, 20, I don’t know. But the rest of our laws would stay the same.”

(Host) Sears says the committee wants to strengthen the ability of probation and parole officers to monitor sex offenders. And he says the panel will also recommend changes to the state’s sexual assault prevention programs.

(Sears) “The very idea that 95 percent of the child sex abuse in Vermont takes place with somebody that’s well known to the child certainly would lead us to move our prevention tactics to helping kids deal with that very difficult topic.” (:14)

(Host) The Judiciary Committee meets a few more times this fall, and will begin drafting formal recommendations for lawmakers to consider when they return in January.

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