Bay County One of the Best for Prosecuting Reoffenders

By: Cameron Taylor Email
By: Cameron Taylor Email

State officials say a convicted sex offender, accused of murdering an eight year old jacksonville girl this weekend, was supposed to be receiving treatment through a residential program, but the case slipped through the cracks. He'd only been out of prison 3-weeks before the murder.

A new study shows Bay County is one of the best in the state for prosecuting reoffenders.

In 2008, the Bay County Sheriff's Office was at a Bay County home looking for a registered sex offender that had committed another crime. The man had recently been released from a state prison.

In 1995, another sexual predator named James Christopher White, became the first in Bay County to be involuntarily committed under the Jimmy Ryce Act, in a rape and false imprisonment case.

"Your past offenses, have you been convicted, has that person been convicted of a sexually violent crime such as rape, such as sexual molestation of a child, do they have a mental abnormality or sexual disorder that makes them likely to reoffend and that's the kicker," said Attorney Zachary Taylor.

Taylor says only a small amount of offenders fit in this category.

A new study is looking at the chances of a Florida sex offender recommitting a similar crime.

Researchers found that after five years, a little more than 5% were re-arrested for new sex crimes.

After ten years, that amount increased to nearly 14%. Local sheriff's investigators say, in reality, it's not that cut and dried.

"There's a difference between reoffending and getting caught and reoffending and not getting caught. Many times those cases do go undiscovered. They tend to pick victims that not necessarily be able to verbalize what's happening to them," said Major Tommy Ford with the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

Bay County has the most registered sexual predators and sex offenders in the 14th judicial circuit with 377. Jackson county is a distant second with 150.

The Florida Department of Children and Families recently recognized the State Attorney's Office for quickly handling Jimmy Ryce civil commitment cases.


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