A measure that would require prison time for anyone convicted of sexually attacking a pre-teen is snarled in the New Jersey Legislature. Southern Ocean County's delegation seeks your online support to clear the roadblocks.

NJ Senator Chris Connors (R-9) (Facebook)

The Jessica Lunsford Act bears the name of the Florida girl who was sexually attacked and murdered by a convicted sex offender.

Last October, the state Senate approved the bill that would insert a mandatory 25-to-life sentence for aggravated sexual assault against a child under age 13, and would increase penalties against anyone who knowingly harbors a sex offender.

The measure, S-380, got a grassroots support while under committee discussion, through an web petition started by state Senator Chris Connors and Assembly members DiAnne Gove and Brian Rumpf (R-9).

The Assembly version, says Connors, is weakened by the exclusion of the harboring penalty provision. The Forked River-based Republicans supported A-2027 despite concerns about the revision. It cleared the full lower house in February.

Connors says that terminology discrepancies leave both versions stranded. S-380 has yet to be given a second reading in the Assembly, and A-2027 is stuck in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

"Consequently," he continues, "convicted sexual predators in our state are still not subject to the harsher penalties that would otherwise be imposed if the Jessica Lunsford Act were law."

If the bills remain stalled before the end of the current session, it will mean redrafting new versions and sending them through the entire committee process again, starting in 2014.

Therefore, they've revived the online petition in order to prod their peers to act. " A greater show of public support will only improve the prospect of the Jessica Lunsford Act being enacted in New Jersey," Connors says.

The Jessica Lunsford Act petition is accessible through the District 9 legislative web site.

For information about Megan's Law, the New Jersey sex offenter Internet registry, sex-assault education and prevention, visit the New Jersey State Police web page.