By Todd Dorman of the Muscatine Journal Capital Bureau
DES MOINES — First-time sex offenders who strike children would serve a
mandatory 25-years-to-life prison sentence under legislation endorsed
Thursday by Republican and Democratic leaders in the evenly divided Iowa
The bill, co-sponsored by 45 members of the 50-member Senate, targets
adults convicted of a sexual offense against a child under age 12. Judges
would determine the length of sentence and offenders would not be
eligible for parole.
“We believe it’s appropriate to have a zero-tolerance policy,” said
Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, R-Ankeny.
Lawmakers rolled out the bill in the midst of the high-profile trial of
Roger Bentley, a convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping, sexually
abusing and murdering 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids. Backers
of the bill argued Thursday that if it had been in place several years
ago, Bentley would still be in prison.
© 2006, Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, IA A Lee Enterprises subsidiary