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Rape convictions

The Senate's Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday, sponsored by state Sen. Curt Kiser, R-Palm Harbor, that would permit prison sentences for first offenders convicted of rape. The Florida Supreme Court recently overturned a rape conviction, saying sentencing guidelines do not allow prison time for first offenses when the rape involves no additional injuries. Kiser said Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton asked legislators to fix the law because the court had no choice but to throw out the conviction.

Taped suspects

A bill that would force law-enforcement officials to tape-record in-custody interviews with prisoners died Tuesday in the Senate. The bill was inspired by the case of Tom Sawyer of Clearwater, who confessed to murder after 16 hours of tape-recorded interrogation. An appellate court said the tape indicated that police obtained his confession by haranguing and threatening. The confession was thrown out and the murder charge dismissed.

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