TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida lawmakers are now calling for the law to be fixed to keep them from hurting new victims.
Cherish Perrywinkel, abducted and murdered by a known sex offender, could have been alive today if a law named for another dead child had worked the way it's intended. The Jimmy Ryce act allows the state to keep offenders locked up, even after their sentence is over.
Donald Smith, the man accused in Cherish's death, was confined for three years, but let go when prosecutors didn't pursue the case.
Fewer than 700 predators remain locked up under the law. Yet the state database lists more than ten thousand sexual predators. "Keeping someone locked up after their sentence has expired as a complicated process, there are at least three hearings with psychiatrist and psychologist and then a judge has to weigh in."
Even then there's still no guarantee a predator won't be released. "They'll spend several years in treatment, and then the court reviews their case on a yearly bases."
A new study found 500 sex offenders released from prison committed more than 2700 new crimes within ten years. Robert Talbot was convicted on 8 counts of molesting kids, some under the age of 12. "I did monstrous things, therefore I am a monster. I shouldn't be around children. If I was ever to be released around children, I shouldn't be."
A study on why the law isn't doing better is due in September. Top legislative leaders are vowing to make a crackdown on sex offenders one of their top priorities for the 2014 legislative session.