JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Do you think the laws in Florida are strong enough to protect children from sexual predators?
First Coast Representative Janet Adkins assembled law enforcement,
victims and even a sex offender on Wednesday to talk about laws
currently on the books and how to make them better.
It was really a brainstorming session, thinking of what the state, cities and communities can do to protect children -- too late for Cherish Perrywinkle.
"I was being blamed for doing this. I didn't do this," said Rayne Perrywinkle, Cherish's mother.
Rayne Perrywinkle said the reality of what happened to 8-year-old daughter Cherish is almost too much to bear.
"Nobody knows what I go through every day, with my nausea, my anxiety, my screaming. I hate nightmares, I hate going to bed. I hate waking up in the morning, I hate going outside," she said.
Cherish's alleged killer had been released from prison just 3 weeks before she was murdered and Rayne said it's because the laws in Florida don't protect children.
"If something was done years ago, none of this would have happened," she said.
State senators, lawyers, and psychologists were all part of the panel Wednesday, brainstorming ways to make the laws better. Longer sentences, community treatment and a better system to register offenders were all ideas on the table.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Wilkie, who found Cherish's body, said he wishes they could do more every day.
"When I started in to the woods that day, I went out there thinking, 'I'm going to do something. I'm going to save her, I'm going to find her, there's going to be some way that I can make this right.' And then you get there and you realize there's nothing you can do. It's done, it's done," he said.
And until they change the laws ...
"I pity the next mom who is going to be up here, and on the news, a week from now a month from now, because her child was taken," Rayne Perrywinkle said.
The next step is going to Tallahassee for the legislative session and seeing what they can get written down in a bill to really change something. But right now it's just ideas and session is months away.
First Coast News