Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Roll out Sex-Offender Laws; about 50 Proposals Seek Added Restrictions on Them

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Roll out Sex-Offender Laws; about 50 Proposals Seek Added Restrictions on Them

Article excerpt

Byline: J. TAYLOR RUSHING

TALLAHASSEE - Attention sex offenders and predators: This is not the Legislature for you.

In the opening weeks of the 2007 session, some 50 bills have been filed in the House and Senate that refer to sexual offenders or predators. They range from broadening the definition of an offender or predator; restrictions on where registered offenders can live or loiter; denying bail to arrested offenders; a requirement that pregnancies of children under 16 years of age be reported to law enforcement agencies; and a variety of tougher registration and screening requirements.

The bills come with high-profile champions: Gov. Charlie Crist, for one, this month finally signed his Anti-Murder Act, which broadens prison possibilities for violent offenders who violate their probation. Attorney General Bill McCollum is also pushing a bill to crack down on sex offenders or predators who use the Internet to seduce children, while also beefing up a state office that prosecutes such crimes.

Much of the blizzard of bills comes after high-profile tragedies such as the abductions and murders of Carlie Brucia, Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde, which demonstrated in recent years the loopholes in state law that allowed their murders. Lunsford's convicted killer, John Couey, was a convicted sex offender who had violated his parole, for example, prompting legislators to tighten such loopholes through the 2005 Jessica Lunsford Act.

Florida isn't alone: Blake Harrison, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures who tracks crime legislation, said several states are pushing major crackdowns against sex offenders and predators. He attributes much of the wave to the 2006 Adam Walsh Act, a federal law that changed states' requirements for their sexual offender registries. But he also said television shows and publicity about high-profile cases such as Florida's have also played a part.

TECHNOLOGY HELPS TRACKERS

"There's been a lot of awareness by the public," Harrison said. "Sex offenses used to be a neglected crime; it wasn't talked about much because people were uncomfortable talking about it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.