Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sex Offender Committed under State Jimmy Ryce Act Ordered Freed by Court; Victor Reed Completed His Prison Sentence, Still Faced Civil Commitment

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sex Offender Committed under State Jimmy Ryce Act Ordered Freed by Court; Victor Reed Completed His Prison Sentence, Still Faced Civil Commitment

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

An appeals court has ordered the release of a Jacksonville sex offender who was committed under the state's Jimmy Ryce Act after he had completed his prison sentence.

Prosecutors said the case was not over and stressed that Victor V. Reed was unlikely to get out anytime soon.

The case will go to the Florida Supreme Court for a final ruling, but prosecutors said the "loophole" that might let Reed get out has already been closed as part of a modification of the Jimmy Ryce Act that occurred earlier this year.

The act allows for the psychiatric review or civil commitment of sexually violent offenders even after they finish their prison sentences.

Reed, 48, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery in May 2013. Circuit Judge Virginia Norton sentenced him to the 481 days he had already served in jail.

Usually that would mean Reed was free, but he remained in custody overnight to be "processed out." The next day the Department of Corrections notified the Department of Children and Families that Reed was a potential Jimmy Ryce inmate. Children and Families responded with a "detainer" letter asking for Reed to be transported to the Florida Civil Commitment Center, which is where sexual offenders and predators are held under the Jimmy Ryce Act.

Prosecutors asked that Reed be detained there because he had "a lengthy history of sexual battery and rape, spanning at least a decade or more" and that he "suffers from a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder that makes him likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care and treatment."

Norton found probable cause that Reed was sexually violent and ordered him held indefinitely.

His attorneys appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeal and won. Florida law provides that when a person is scheduled to be released from prison, the agency with jurisdiction must transfer the prisoner immediately to the custody of the Department of Children and Families. …

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