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Organization Pushes Tougher Sentences in Crimes Against Children - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

National Organization Pushes for Tougher Sentences in Crimes Against Children

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A national organization is calling for tougher sentences in crimes against children. Friday, the National Association to Protect Children brought that fight before state legislators and judges in Richmond.

A report out this week from the lobbying group PROTECT is putting pressure on lawmakers and those who uphold the laws of the commonwealth. The report comes as committees in the house and senate meet to interview 37 Virginia judges up for reappointment next year.

PROTECT wants to send the message to judges that they will be held accountable for what happens in their courtrooms. Among other things, the report concludes that sentencing guidelines in the commonwealth are too lenient on child predators. They want legislators to push for harsher penalties.

"For those who come into the criminal justice system, they need meaningful sentences. They need to be behind bars for as long as possible so that they don't have the opportunity to go out and harm additional children," said Camille Cooper, director of legislative affairs for PROTECT.

This is PROTECT's first formal judicial performance review report, but it will certainly not be the last. It plans to return to the capitol every year when judges come up for reappointment.

In the meantime, they say they feel as though they are making progress. PROTECT is confident those lenient sentencing guidelines will come under tough scrutiny from the state's criminal sentencing commission in 2013.

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