Tuesday, February 18, 2014

FL - Florida lawmakes hope to tighten loopholes in sex offender laws

Rep. Dane Eagle
Rep. Dane Eagle
Original Article


By Marisa Kendall

Florida lawmakers have agreed to make reforming sex offense laws a priority this legislative session, a move spearheaded in part by a Cape Coral representative.
- What else is new? They do this every single year.

Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, jumped on board after a Sun Sentinel investigation suggested the state mishandled hundreds of sex offense cases and allowed convicted offenders to find new victims.

I’m passionate about it,” Eagle said, “and I’m glad others are taking notice.”

House and Senate panels passed a handful of correlating bills last week that would keep sex offenders behind bars longer, require them to provide more personal information after they are released, notify victims when they are released, and eliminate a loophole that could allow sex offenders to leave prison without serving a period of community supervision. The legislative session begins March 4.

HB 7021, one of two bills sponsored by Eagle, would make it easier to detain sex offenders under Florida’s Jimmy Ryce law. The 1999 law requires the state to evaluate violent sex offenders to determine if they are still a threat to society after completing their prison terms. If they are deemed a threat, the offenders can be confined indefinitely in a treatment program.

Almost 600 offenders evaluated since 1999 were released and later convicted of another sex crime, according to the Sun Sentinel investigation published last year.

We should at least be able to do our best to keep those kind of people behind bars and under watch,” Eagle said.

Now the decision to commit a sex offender under Jimmy Ryce hinges on a unanimous vote by a Department of Children and Families panel (Isn't that a conflict of interest?), which can range from two to five people. If Eagle’s bill passes, one vote in favor would be enough to commit an offender. And if every member of the DCF panel votes no, the state attorney’s office could override the panel and commit the offender.
- So basically they are going to just start committing everybody?

But Roger Gunder, a Fort Myers sexologist who has worked with sex offenders and victims of sexual abuse, thinks it should be harder, not easier, to imprison someone indefinitely.

I have never been in favor of locking people up for what you think they might do,” he said, “which is exactly what the Jimmy Ryce act does.”

Eagle’s second sex offender bill, HB 7025, would require sex offenders to disclose more personal information when they are released from prison. The bill updates the current statute, requiring sex offenders to register information including their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

HB 7027 would impose 50-year minimum mandatory sentences for dangerous sexual offenders, eliminate the statute of limitations for sex offenses committed on victims younger than 16, and authorize arrests without warrants in cases of unlawful exposure of sexual organs.

An extended prison sentence would be appropriate for a small percentage of the state’s most violence sex offenders, Gunder said. But most sex offenders need more treatment, not more time in prison.

Gunder said media coverage, such as the Sun Sentinel report, gives the public a distorted view of the recidivism rates of sex offenders. Research shows sex offenders re-offend less often than other types of criminals, he said.

House and Senate leaders, in a show of bipartisanship, have agreed to move forward with the proposed sex offender bills. Eagle is in favor of all of them. He said:

I’ve already supported them with my votes.


Chance_X74 said...

Anyone else noticing that the term loophole has gone from meaning an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law to something that we haven't made a law about yet?

Supervision after release is counter to the term release. If someone is sentenced, and they finish that sentence, further supervision under the DoC after release amounts to another sentence being added administratively without due process. If they take it to court and decide on post release supervision, it amounts to sentencing someone a second time for the same conviction which, seems to me, would violate some protection against double jeopardy or indefinite sentencing outside of civil commitment.

Mark said...

"B 7021, one of two bills sponsored by Eagle, would make it easier to detain sex offenders under Florida’s Jimmy Ryce law.
The 1999 law requires the state to evaluate violent sex offenders to determine if they are still a threat to society after completing their prison terms. If they are deemed a threat, the offenders can be confined indefinitely in a treatment program." About 23 other states have sex offender civil commitment. So why the big deal in Florida? They make it sound as though they just discovered the cure for the comm0on cold and some new fix-up for a "loophole" that never existed to begin with. But leave it to themselves to believe they have done good for God and country. Yet another oppressive burden on Florida tax payers for a future enactment of spurious safety illusion. And when this law will be signed, pay careful attention to the following: all of the back slapping, praises, for all who voted, the sensational media hype, and the never ending opera of how the children and other vulnerable victims will be safe(er). And of course, the NEW Florida "cottage" industry civil commitment will generate. More correction staff, the ton of psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, medical staff, new building(s), maintenance, careers, and so forth. court time, transportation and so forth. Congratulations Florida, you have hit the lottery for the sake of the children.

Mark said...

Assuming arguendo, "The person who took picture could also be charged for possession of
child pornography and then they sent it to somebody, they could be
charged with possession of child pornography, and if they sent it to
anybody, it could just go on and on and on," Tweedie said." So if 15 year old johnny send a nudie to 15 year old sally, this is child pornography? The crotch monitors are out there.

Mark said...

"Jordan says that in the 10 years she's been fighting for a similar bill
to prosecute part-time teachers and coaches who prey on teens," Now Maryland's age of full consent is 16. This means it is LEGAL for a 16 year old to engage in sex - period. No matter how old the 16 year old's partner is. So how is a perfectly legal sexual encounter, pursuant to Maryland law transform into preying on teens when the age of consent is 16 and the 16, 17, 18 year old is now legally capable of consent and knowing what they are doing? I think Senator Jamie Raskin wants his back slapped Hey senator, you obviously want your cake and eat it too - right? It sounds to me like Jordan has found an outlet for her deep seated hatred for males everywhere. Don't you think so?

Barry Gowland said...

Damian Green seems a mite ignorant as to UK law on this, and as a government minister he ought to know better. Although, technically, the age of consent in the UK is 16, it rises to 18 if the male occupies a position of authority re. the girl, e.g. a teacher/student relationship.
Also - unless the law has changed drastically - if the girl is under 13 it is a felony, while if she is between 13 and 15 it is a misdemeanour. Thus the first can attract a life sentence, while the maximum punishment for the second is 2 years' imprisonment In practice, what happened depended on the age differences - the older the male in comparison with the girl the more severe the sentence.
Two factors that have complicated the approach to this have been as follows. One has been the practice of school nurses prescribing the Pill to under-age girls(though they STILL need written parental consent for as little as changing a plaster!), and arranging abortions for such girls, while withholding information from parents. Another was an attempt to compel those occupying a professional relationship with under-16s to disclose to the police any consultation from the person that was of a sexual nature. This met with such resistance that it had to be dropped.
In the USA, as well as in the UK, the best rule is to leave well alone - severely alone! Or, as you say your side of the pond, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Mark said...

Developmental disability is a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, especially in "language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living". Developmental disabilities can be detected early on, and do persist throughout an individual's lifespan. Okay, can we all visualize this, all these developmental disabled sex offender chasing little kids around in wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, crutches. Yes sir, get em out the county. do not stop at the group home.

Sex Offender Issues said...


Chance_X74 said...

It would appear that the reporter has misconstrued some facts here about HB-7017. After reading the text of the bill pertaining to the post release supervision she mentions, it turns out that the bill isn't about post release supervision of "sex offenders" at all, it has to do specifically with DCF notifications of those deemed legally sexually violent predators who already have "a pending term of court ordered or post-prison release supervision" (early or conditional release). While it is unclear if there is an attempt to extend such proposed supervision beyond what the original sentence would have been, it's certainly not how the reporter has framed it.