Convicted child predators could face a mandatory life sentence under legislation one New Jersey lawmaker continues to push.

Jail cell
Photo by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via Getty Images

In August of 1994, just days after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was brutally raped and murdered by a two-time convicted sex offender, State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Trenton) introduced a bill to toughen the penalty for child molesters by having them spend the rest of their lives in jail. The legislation has never gained traction, but Turner continues to re-introduce it every year.

"My bill would require that any person who sexually assaults a minor - they would go to prison and they would go there for life without the opportunity for parole," said Turner. "Many studies have shown that people who have a proclivity for assaulting children continue to do so."

The prison term would be mandatory, and it would apply to anyone who sexually assaults a child under the age of 16. Turner said she isn't sure why the measure has never passed the Legislature, but she is hopeful it will get serious consideration this year because it is the 20th anniversary of Megan Kanka's murder.

"We know that we have these registration programs that don't seem to be working because many of the people who are released from prison for sexually assaulting a minor don't register, and they continue to prey upon our youth - and this one way we can certainly protect our young people," Turner said.

Many pedophiles know they have a sickness and they can't help themselves, and that is why they must be locked up behind bars for the rest of the lives, Turner said.

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