JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Action News investigates why sex offender laws have not changed after the death of Cherish Perrywinkle.
The abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle sparked outrage from her mother and the community.
Rayne Perrywinkle's nightmare might have been avoided if lawmakers had acted seven years earlier. "It could've been stopped," said Shad Boyer.
Shad Boyer knows the pain of losing a loved one. Authorities say a convicted sex offender raped and killed his wife Andrea nearly seven years ago. The suspect, Michael Renard Jackson, walked out of prison just 13 months earlier after serving time for the rape of a Jacksonville teenager. "These people should not be on the streets," said Boyer.
A 1999 law calls for additional oversight of sex offenders. The Jimmy Ryce Act requires screening before offenders can be released from prison. We requested information from the Department of Children and Families about that screening. A recent report shows the DCF has screened more than 30,000 offenders and predators. But it also shows fewer than 1,500 were committed to a special state-run sex offender treatment center. Authorities screened Donald Smith but opted not to commit him for additional treatment.
Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi says state laws are working, but admits mistakes are still made. "They have to make the best judgments, psychologists do, and sometimes they're wrong," said Mizrahi.
Lawmakers have held hearings since Cherish's death, but five months later, nothing has changed. "These people can't be rehabilitated. They're going to re-offend," said Boyer. "That's the justice I'm looking for, is stopping it before it gets to be more of a problem."
We've spoken on the phone with several state lawmakers from Jacksonville. They tell us they will discuss strengthening sex offender laws when their legislative session starts in March.
Michael Renard Jackson's original conviction was overturned. He will have another trial.