Sex Offender Unfriendly State

MGN Online

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Governor Rick Scott signed four bills Tuesday afternoon designed to make Florida the most unfriendly state for sex offenders and predators. It requires even homeless offenders to let police know where they spend their time.

Lauren Book was abused by her nanny, Chris Swinehart by his stepfather.

"My mom told me change the story and I didn't think that was fair for her and for him to do that to me," said Swinehart.

Both came to the Capitol to see tough new sex offender legislation signed by the Governor.

“I want to thank you for hearing them. Thank you for hearing us,” Book said.

The legislation makes it easier to keep sex offenders in treatment after serving their prison sentences.

"No one has ever raped a child from the inside of a prison cell, and that's where many of these predators are going to spend a lot more time." Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach said.

It keeps them on probation after they are released, and makes them register any cars they might drive, their email addresses before they are used, and where they are living within 48 hours of a change.

Sen. Greg Evers of Baker was the Bill’s Sponsor.

"We wanted them to register, we wanted to know even if they're homeless and living under a bridge. Which end of the bridge do you live under?" Evers said.

Hillsborough Detective Kat Poyner said the registration will make offenders think twice.

"I think that when they come in and they are registering and they realize all the different ramifications and sanctions that they are under. I think it makes them behave," Poyner said.

The current law says the worst sex offenders can be sentenced for 25 years to life. The new law, a minimum of 50 years.

During the bill signing, a victim's advocate held a picture of 9-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle who was killed last year. Had the new provisions been law back then, many believe Cherish would still be alive.

One in three sex offenders ends up back in prison within three years, but not necessarily for a sex crime.