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Dubie: Vermont Must Get Tough on Sex Offenders - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dubie: Vermont Must Get Tough on Sex Offenders

Brooke Bennett Brooke Bennett
Michael Jacques Michael Jacques
Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie
Gaye Symington Gaye Symington

Montpelier, Vermont - July 14, 2008

"It's the highest responsibility of government to protect its citizens-- from those that are most vulnerable from those that are most dangerous," said Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, R-Vermont.

Fresh on Brian Dubie's mind-- 12-year-old Brooke Bennett who was found murdered just twelve days ago. The investigation into her death has led to the arrest of her uncle Michael Jacques, a convicted sex offender who police now say was released from probation seven years early. He's been charged with kidnapping Brooke and sexually assaulting another young family member.

"The legislature-- in light of this terrible tragedy-- wants to act. I'm recommending that the governor call the legislature in session 30 days from today to pass these reforms," said Dubie.

Those reforms include chemical castration of repeat offenders, mandatory sentences for some violent crimes and the adoption of Jessica's Law-- which would set a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for a first time child sex abuser. Dubie also wants to expand Vermont's Special Investigation Units.

And he's asking Vermonters to sign a petition requiring tougher laws for sex offenders. Visit his website for more on the petition.

Vermont's Speaker of the House and Democratic Candidate for Governor Gaye Symington says she'd like to know why current laws were not followed before passing new ones.

"It's the governor's job to decide to call a special session and if Governor Douglas calls for a special session I would certainly be there. As governor, however, I would call for an independent investigation of why it is that our current laws to prevent and deal with sex crimes do not seem to be being followed," said Symington.

Monday evening, the Governor's Press Secretary said Governor Douglas would call a one day special session if it appeared likely that a package of reforms would be passed... that there would be agreement ahead of time. At this point, that doesn't appear likely.

The leader of the Vermont Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold their own press conference Tuesday to outline their goals and to announce a series of public hearings to be held over the next three months. Those meetings are all designed to investigate how best to strengthen Vermont's sex crimes laws.

Bridget Barry Caswell - WCAX News

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