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Preview – Senate To Consider Internet Luring , Death Penalty Study

Senate Budget Committee to Vote On Environmental Prosecutor and Rental Assistance Supplement

TRENTON – The full Senate and two of its committees are set to convene on Monday to consider several timely issues including a bill that would make the use of the Internet to lure an individual a third-degree crime.

Senators Paul Sarlo and John Adler introduced bill S-1429 after reports of a woman in Wood-Ridge being menaced by a stranger who parked his van near her home, leered at her, and frightened her into calling the police. The stranger had allegedly intended to commit a sexual assault against her after being enticed into coming to her home by a message he thought she had posted in an Internet chat room, but was, in fact, posted by an individual posing as the woman.

The bill would make it a third-degree crime for a person to attempt, via electronic or any other means, to lure or entice another person to meet or appear at any place with the purpose to commit a crime against any person. A conviction would carry a sentence of three to five years and/or a fine of $15,000.

The Senate will also consider S-709, sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, to establish a commission to study the use of the death penalty in New Jersey. The commission would be charged with exploring several facets of the death penalty, including its effect as a deterrent, potential bias in trying cases as capital punishment cases, the relative cost of trying a capital punishment case over life in prison, and whether the benefits of the death penalty outweigh the consequences of executing innocent individuals incorrectly found guilty. The 13 member commission would report their findings to the Governor and Legislature within 18 months of being impaneled.

The Commission follows a model similar to that used recently in Illinois. Over a ten-year period, 13 inmates on death row were exonerated in Illinois. Following sharp criticism by the media and community groups, Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on the death penalty and announced the formation of the “Commission on Capital Punishment” to study flaws in the administration of the Illinois death penalty and to recommend reforms.

Senator Joseph Vitale will present his bill allowing adopted individuals to have access to their original birth certificate and other related information. The bill, S-1093/620, also provides adoptees with additional means by which to obtain information about their family medical and social history and would give birth parents the ability to request non-disclosure of their identity provided they fill out a form providing medical, cultural and social information.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will also meet to vote on a number of bills. Senators Turner and Ronald L. Rice are sponsoring a supplemental appropriation of $15 million for the rental assistance program created this summer to provide housing vouchers for families waiting for federal Section 8 vouchers. The vouchers will help families and senior citizens without permanent homes to afford New Jersey’s high rents.

Also in the Committee is a measure sponsored by Acting Governor Richard Codey and Senators Ellen Karcher, Bob Smith and John Adler that would establish the Office of Environmental Law Enforcement in the Department of Law and Public Safety (S-989). The new Office would be administered by an Environmental Prosecutor who is independent of the Attorney General and appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The function of the environmental prosecutor would be to prosecute criminal violations of the environmental laws of the State.

The full agendas for the Senate committees with their times and locations have been distributed to the State House media.


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