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Sexual predators, living wills among new laws 

Norma Love, Associated Press, December 29, 2006

First-time child molesters could be locked up for a
minimum of 25 years in prison -- and potentially indefinitely afterward -- under a tough new law taking effect Jan. 1 [2007].

The new sexual Predators Act will pressure judges to impose a 25-year minimum sentence on people who sexually assault children under 13, but the sentence will not be mandatory. When judges choose a shorter sentence, they will have to explain, taking into account
such factors as the age of the victim, the use of force and the relationship between victim and assailant.

Second offenders who rape young victims or hurt them badly will face life without parole. Predators who murder children will face 35 years to life.

The law will make it easier to keep violent sex offenders in a secure psychiatric facility if they are mentally incompetent or still considered dangerous after they complete their prison sentences. Commitment orders would be reviewed at least every five years. State officials say that provision could cost millions of
dollars for new facilities, housing and treatment.

The law will have more stringent requirements for sex offenders to register and new penalties if they fail to follow the rules.

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