Ride for Jessica

Bikers work to change Tennessee law

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Mark Norman is trying to get Tennessee laws regarding child sex offenders strengthened, and he is taking to the saddle to do it.

Norman put together a motorcycle ride that ended Oct. 21 at Maryville’s Punkin Center, to raise awareness and, most of all, collect signatures for his petition to get Jessica’s Law passed in Tennessee.

Jessica’s Law refers to 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford who disappeared in February, 2005 from her bedroom in her grandparents house in Florida. Police later found her body in a shallow grave less than 150 yards from her home. A convicted sex offender told authorities that he had killed her.

Florida signed tougher laws into effect following the murder and trial. The new law establishes a mandatory sentence of at least sentence of at least 25 years behind bars for people convicted of certain sex crimes against children 11 and younger, with lifetime tracking by global positioning satellite after they are freed. Norman would like to see the law enacted in Tennessee and is collecting petitions.

The Ride for Jessica’s Law actually consisterd of three separate rides. It started on Oct. 7 at Punkin Center, went for 14 days and returned to Punkin Center on Oct. 21. Along the way, riders were encouraged to collect signatures. Norman’s goal is to collect more than 10,000 signatures.

Those interested in signing the petition can also do it on line, said Norman, at nomorechildpredators.com.

Darrell Watkins was at Punkin Center when the ride ended and took these photos for Blount Today.

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