WASHINGTON, DC Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) issued the following statement in regards to the conviction of John Couey in the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford:

The guilty verdict handed down by a Florida jury cannot erase the unthinkable crimes against 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, but it sends a message to those despicable predators lurking in the shadows that crimes against our children will not go unpunished. John Couey is an evil man who is not worthy of living his life out in prison and I hope to see the ultimate justice carried out.

Our children are our greatest resource, and every time a child is born, God is making a bet on the future of our culture. We are not judged by the way we treat the rich, the famous, the powerful, the influential. We as a society are judged by the way we treat the weak, the innocent, the children, the Jessicas of our world. I commend her father, Mark Lunsford, for his dedication in making our world a safer place for other children. He is helping get Jessica's Law passed in 18 States, which increases the minimum penalty for sex offenders to 25 years for first offenders.

My heart and my prayers are with Jessicas family.

Congressman Poes first bill, the Child Predator Act, was the basis for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and includes the provisions of Jessicas Law. This legislation was drafted in response to the kidnappings, rapes, and murders of several children like Jessica Lunsford and addresses numerous elements of crime against children including: violent crimes, sexual crimes and exploitation, as well as protection of foster and adopted children. This bill features a concrete definition of a child predator, the escalation of non-compliance with registration requirements to a federal felony, community notification for all sex offenders (including child predators) who enter a new community, a free online database accessible to law enforcement and parents, and specifications for the timely update of this database even for those sex offenders crossing state lines.

Congressman Poe founded and co-chairs the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus. He has over 22 years experience dealing with criminal cases as a felony court judge and a prosecutor and remains a leading authority on crime, justice, and childrens issues. Congressman Poe serves on the Board of Directors for the National Childrens Alliance and The Childrens Assessment Center in Houston.