Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida senators file four bills targeting sexually violent predators

TALLAHASSEE — Outraged by cases involving repeat sexually violent predators, four Florida senators filed bills Tuesday to signal an aggressive approach to protecting the state's children.

"Together these bills will make Florida scorched earth for those who seek to harm our children," Senate President Don Gaetz said in a statement, calling the legislation a "centerpiece" of a joint House and Senate agenda.

Filing four bills on one day shows the Senate is taking a "coordinated bipartisan and comprehensive approach," said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, who filed the legislation along with Sens. Greg Evers, R-Baker, Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, and Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood.

The bills tackle issues including length of sentences and better evaluations, changes that impact both the criminal justice system and Florida's Sexually Violent Predator Program, which falls under the Department of Children & Families.

Bradley called the issue "very personal and very raw. We lost two precious children in our communities over the past three years" due to sexually violent predators.

Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, was abducted in June from a Jacksonville Walmart, raped and murdered.

Her accused killer, Donald Smith, was a registered sex offender, had been evaluated twice and let go. Under the proposed legislation, he would not have been released in light of his previous crimes.

Somer Thompson, a Jacksonville 7-year-old, was abducted walking home from her school in 2009.

Her body was found in a Georgia landfill and in February 2012, Jarred Harrell, 26, was sentenced to six life sentences without parole for abduction, rape and murder.

Bradley's proposal (SB 526) requires the court to order community supervision after release from prison for certain sexual offenses and increases the length of sentences for certain adult-on-minor offenses.

The legislation "empowers probation offices to watch more sex offenders and to watch them for a longer period of time" he said.

The proposals come after hearings with victims and child advocates, law enforcement, medical professionals and other experts in the House and Senate stemming from a series in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Florida senators file four bills targeting sexually violent predators 12/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott has lunch with President Donald Trump


    Gov. Rick Scott had lunch Thursday with President Donald Trump, the latest in a series of get togethers between the political allies.

    Trump and Scott are grabbing lunch today.
  2. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  3. At 'American Idol' auditions in Orlando, there are life lessons in line

    Music & Concerts

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — From her spot across the lawn, Sasha Orihuela studies her son.

    Jeremy Joshua Dorsey reacts after past American Idol contestants walk by ahead of his audition at the Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017. 

Hundreds of people showed up for the first auditions for ABC's reboot of 'American Idol'. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  4. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  5. Kevin Cash: 'We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence'


    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we match up well against that team or not," Kevin Cash said.