Sexually violent predators will be in prison longer and authorities will find it easier to keep them past their sentence if they are deemed to be a danger to society. The get tough legislation is a direct result of the death of 8 year old Cherish Perrywinkle last year. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the legislation will be among the first sent to the Governor this year.
Donald Smith posed as a child protection worker and tried to take an eight year old girl away from her parents. Because he didn’t succeed, he got four years in jail and no treatment. Within days of his release, he is accused of killing Cherish Perriwinkle.
Fixing the holes in the sex predator law that let Smith loose became the top priority of legislative leaders this year. State Representative Charles McBurney says there are no guarantees, but. ”Had that bill been into effect, I think there would have been a much greater change that it may not have occurred” says the Jacksonville lawmaker.
Lauren Book was repeatedly assaulted a dozen years ago by her nanny. She has worked tirelessly for legislative reform, even visiting the prison that holds sexually violent predators. There she asked tough questions. ”Can these individuals be cured? Are our streets safe with these sexually violent predators out there? And the answer was no, what we can do is mediate some of their triggers, but no these individuals can’t be cured” is what Book was told.
The legislation makes it easier to commit sexually violent offenders for treatment, requiring just two of five votes from a panel of experts.
State Senator Eleanor Sobel says the legislation is long overdue. ”We’re gonna look at the whole history at the local level.
Reporter: And what do you think that will do?
“It will make sure that our streets are safer for our Florida families” says Sobel.
No one is willing to speculate over whether this legislation would have saved Cherish Perriwinkle, but most say it will save lives in the future.
The legislation is expected to be on the Governor’s Desk Wednesday. On Sunday, Lauren Book begins her annual walk around the state to raise awareness of sexual abuse. She says the best tools that parents have is education for their children.
Posted in State News | Comments Off