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FL Rep. wants tougher laws for sex offenders/predators

10:41 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Naomi Gomez sat on bleachers watching her daughter at soccer practice Wednesday night near Baymeadows Road.

"We try to surround ourselves with good people and with people we trust," Gomez said. 

Gomez is extra cautious after the news of Cherish Perrywinkle's kidnapping and death this past weekend.

"The little girl was 8 years old," Gomez stated, "the exact same age as my daughter."

Another First Coast mother was also shaken by Cherish's case. Florida Representative Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach wants to close the loopholes which enable sexual predators to re-offend.

"What are the barriers for the state attorney's prosecutors? The barriers to getting convictions on felony charges?," Adkins said. 

Supervision of sexual offenders is another concern.  Police say authorities visited Donald Smith just hours before Cherish was kidnapped and murdered.

"I'd like to understand more deeply what the supervision looks like, what it entails," Adkins stated. "Is it a couple minutes? Is it 'let me look at you. Do you look okay?' Or is it more in depth? Are we trying to get inside these individuals' heads?"  

Adkins said alternative housing for sex offenders and predators -- away from children -- should be explored. 

She also says the classification of sexual offender can be confusing to some.

"I think we've got some people labeled as a sex offender, but maybe they were involved romantically with a 17-year-old and they're not necessarily a threat to the community," Adkins said. "So we need to look at who is a threat and who is not, and we need to make sure we have our resources focused on those who are threats to our children."

As for prevention, just this past legislative session, Governor Rick Scott vetoed $3 million for the Smarter, Safer Families project. It's a program that teaches elementary students about stranger danger. 

"I think it's worthy of looking at it again, absolutely," Adkins said.

As for Gomez, she looked at her daughter and said, "We can never be too safe with our kids." 

She hopes lawmakers take this opportunity to kick start tougher laws against people who prey on children.

Click here if you want to contact Rep. Adkins.

First Coast News

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