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New push to protect children from violent sex offenders

10:33 PM, Dec 18, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Protecting our children from violent sexual predators is at the forefront of an aggressive movement by Florida senators. Legislation has been filed to strengthen state laws. But here on the First Coast a local group is also taking action.

ReClaim Global is a sexual victims advocacy group. Right now members are reaching out to lawmakers, urging them make sure sex offenders are not released from prison and assure our current laws on the books are more strongly enforced. 

"If Donald Smith is found guilty of that we still have to deal with that realization that Cherish Perrywinkle did not have to die," said Dr. Kaye Smith of Reclaim Global.

Donald Smith is now charged in the death of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. She was kidnapped, sexually battered and murdered. Smith was released from jail as a sex offender before her death.

Now Florida lawmakers are pushing to better protect children. Tuesday, in a bi-partisan effort to create more safeguards and protections, Senators filed a legislative package to strengthen state laws against sexually violent predators. 

"While they're figuring out what they need to do, we need to do something now," said Smith.

For the past 20 years she's fought to help victims of sexual abuse. Now her group is reaching out to lawmakers demanding immediate action.

"Reclaim Global is mobilizing with a complete plea to all of the lawmakers in our state to put in place an immediate stay for sex offenders," said Smith. "So that none of them are let out of prison."

Smith believes the Jimmy Ryce Act plays a part in what she calls the state's failure to protect.

Under the act the Department of Children and Family Services evaluates sex offenders before they're released from prison. Those who are considered likely to attack again can be sent to a treatment facility for further evaluation.

"We don't have to let another sex offender out of jail if we would just enforce that part," said Smith. "A lot of people will argue well what about the constitutional rights of prisoners. In my mind they have no constitutional rights that supersedes the protection of a child from being perpetrated by these sex offenders."

Go HERE to see a full view of the four bills proposed by the Senate.

First Coast News

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