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Pushing For Change

December 18th, 2013 by flanews

Months after an 8-year-old North Florida girl was kidnapped and killed by a repeat sex offender, lawmakers are pushing for change. As Matt Horn reports – if approved, Florida will have one of the toughest sex offender laws in the country.

Violent Sex offender Donald Smith is awaiting trial for the death of Jacksonville 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. Smith is just one of hundreds who has re-offended statewide after being released from prison.

“The Jacksonville case is a perfect example of how the system unfolded,” said Senate President Don Gaetz (R).

In recent years, more than 600 sexually violent offenders, including Smith, have slipped through the system.

“I think it’s fair to say something’s not working,” said Sen. Gaetz.

State lawmakers have introduced legislation to get tough on sex offenders. If passed, it would make Florida’s laws some of the toughest in the country.

“We need to make sure Florida is the most unfriendly environment in America for people who want to victimize our kids,” said Sen. Gaetz.

Because of sexual offenders who slipped through the cracks, 400 children have been assaulted in recent years. 12 died.

Lawmakers have been pushing the Florida Department of Children and Families to keep kids safer.

“We are pleased that more attention has been given to this really important tropic and we plan to continue working with them on the changes,” said Michelle Glady, Press Secretary DCF.

Ultimately, lawmakers would like to keep sex predators behind bars forever, but a court will have the final say over whether a predator can return to society.

Smith’s next pre-trial is set for the beginning of January.

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