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Lawmakers debate changes to sex offender laws

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Updated: 9/24/2013 6:46 pm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Local lawmakers met in Tallahassee to look at changing sex offender laws Tuesday.

The meeting came after a new report from the Department of Children & Families and the death of Cherish Perrywinkle. We went to the head of the agency to ask if mistakes were made putting sex offenders on the street.

Cherish was murdered in June. Police say taken by a local sex offender, raped and killed. But the question many have is why Donald Smith was out of jail in the first place. He had numerous convictions and was even recommended to be evaluated for sex offender treatment at one point. But that didn't happen.

That's why the interim secretary of DCF ordered a review on the office.

"I wanted experts not inside DCF to give me an idea of what we can do better," said Esther Jacobo.

One of those things is having confidence in evaluators and referring cases for further review, if there is any doubt an offender could re-offend.

The report says those rates of re-offending are low, less than 5 percent. "I think mistakes are made in every aspect if you're trying to predict future behavior," said Jacobo.

While the interim secretary says they will never get to 100 percent accuracy, they owe it to the community to try.

"I think it'll get better as we learn more and learn from mistakes," said Jacobo.

Sheriff John Rutherford also sat on the expert panel Tuesday. He says officers need to be able to look inside homes of offenders and predators when police do address checks.

Rutherford also wants any vehicle accessible to an offender or predator to be registered with FDLE.

This is just the beginning of the process. The changes could take several months.


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

oncefallencom - 9/28/2013 10:07 PM
0 Votes
If the police want to see inside a registered citizen's home, then quit being lazy and do what they always do-- get a search warrant. But then you need probable cause. And being on the public registry is not good enough. Too bad, cops. The reason so many "slip through the cracks" is because the lawmakers cast a net so wide, they had to weed through over 31,000 people to find a few hundred who may reoffend. The law is all about appeasing the real monster Predator Panic has created, a media myth like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. Sex offender truth at oncefallendotcom

Realchange - 9/24/2013 6:11 PM
0 Votes
Let's see kill a clerk go to jail for 30 years. Kill someone doing another kind job same 30 years. Kill cop lucky if you make it to prison and automatic death penalty. Kill a police dog charged as if you killed a police officer even though it was ripping your arm off at the time. Police officers kill a dog through negligence no charges. There is a lot laws that need changing. I am ok with registering a sex offenders car into the database within reason. Not their friends or family cars though to much like police state then. Then again who are we kidding police officers never make mistakes that would put other people in jail instantly.

Papakilo - 9/24/2013 5:51 PM
1 Vote
Laws don't need to be changed. Try enforcing the existing laws instead of wasting taxpayers money pacifying situations which are covered by laws and just need the judges to enforce the laws with appropriate punishments.

Old Dog - 9/24/2013 4:08 PM
0 Votes
How many more kids must be murdered, raped or kidnapped before we change the laws in this country to keep these animals in prison for the rest of their sick lives? Better yet, any animal who commits such a crime against a child, the elderly and the physically or mentally challenged, should face a swift and public execution, that would simply be the justice they deserve.
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