The legislation has been referred to as "Jessica's Law," in memory of Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl who was raped and killed by a repeat sex offender.

"We are sending a message not just throughout the state but throughout the country that child molesters will be dealt with severely in Connecticut," Rell said in a press release. "Child predators will be caught and sent to prison for a very long time. I believe this law will help protect children in Connecticut ..."

The new law imposes mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for enticing a child under age 13, having sexual or indecent contact with a child under age 13, employing a minor in an obscene performance, and importing or possessing child pornography, according to Rell's press release.

The legislation establishes mandatory minimum prison terms -- five years for a first offense, 10 years for a second -- for adults who use the Internet to attempt to entice a child age 13 and under into sexual contact.

These provisions of the law all took effect July 1.

"While this new law moves us forward as a state, I continue to remind the public that we need them to report what they know is wrong," Rell said. "By quickly informing law enforcement of any dangerous violence situations you may encounter or suspect, you can help to prevent heartbreaking, horrifying crimes.

"Sexual offenders are among the most dangerous people in society and have an extremely high rate of recidivism. The longer these predators are out of our communities, the safer our children will be."

Robert Field, Danbury's public defender, whose office represents people charged with sex crimes, said he isn't in favor of mandatory sentences for any offense.

"Every time the legislature passes something like this, it's basically saying we don't trust the judges we appoint," Field said.

Field said this will result in more people going to trial. "It's going to create increased trials and increased congestion in the system," Field said. "It puts more stress on victims. It forces victims to testify."

Staff writers Karen Ali and John Pirro contributed to this Associated Press report.