TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida lawmakers are moving quickly to close loopholes in the sex predator registration and civil commitment laws that allowed accused killer Donald Smith to escape scrutiny. The legislation could be the first bills signed into law this year..
Sex Predators would face increased registration, including their cars and email. State Senator Greg Evers of Pensacola is pushing hard. “ I don’t care if they are living under a bridge.”
Sen. Denise Grimsley of Lake Wales says the legislation would also make it harder for predators to leave state custody after their sentences are over. “The bill fixes loopholes where inmates were inadvertently released from custody. And under this bill, these individuals will be detained and evaluated for civil commitment.”
The legislation is on the fast track after last year’s death of Cherish Perrywinkle. Her accused killer, Donald Smith slipped through the cracks and avoided screening that could have shown he was still dangerous.
Sen. Eleanor Sobel is from Broward County. “So we want to make sure that they are not in society and hurting our precious kids.”
Northeast Florida lawmakers, like Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine, are pushing the legislation. “Because I want to get as close to zero tolerance as we can get.”
The Florida Action Committee’s Gail Colletta told lawmakers they were heading the wrong way. She argued better screening up front for everyone arrested would keep kids safer. “And they would have been able to identify at this point that this is a high risk offender, whether sexually motivated or not, that information given to a judge. He would more than likely not been pled down/”
Lawmakers plan on a full Senate vote on the first day of the legislative session, making it likely that this package will be the first bills signed into law.
Florida’s Sex Predator Legislation in Florida is named for 9 year old Jimmy Ryce, who was murdered in 1995. His killers execution is set for next week.
The legislation also requires at least two experts in sexual predators to agree that someone is not a danger to society before they can be released, even if their sentence has expired.