It is an option our apostolate supports—#4 of our criminal justice principles—because this is an evil without a cure, and this series from the Sun-Sentinel makes the point why it is an option that should be available.
Another child is dead. This time, a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl, a year younger than Jimmy Ryce.
A 1999 law passed after Jimmy was raped and murdered at age 9 is meant to protect Floridians from sex offenders by keeping the most dangerous locked up after they finish their prison sentences.
But an eight-month Sun Sentinel investigation into the law named in Jimmy’s memory has uncovered shocking failures. Florida’s safeguards have broken down at every stage, setting hundreds of rapists and child molesters free to harm again.
The newspaper’s investigation found:
For every sex offender the state has committed under the 14-year-old Ryce law, two others have been released — only to be arrested again for a sex crime.
From South Florida to the Panhandle, these men have cut a fresh trail of pain, molesting more than 460 children, raping 121 women, and killing 14.
Many offenders attacked again only days after Florida let them go. Six found new victims the same day they walked out the prison gates.
“There are too many people like that out walking around the street,’’ said Victoria, 32, of Central Florida, who was raped and tortured in 2001 by a sex offender the state released 11 months earlier. “This law isn’t working.’’
After reviewing the Sun Sentinel’s findings, the head of the agency that screens sex offenders said she would investigate what changes should be made.
Esther Jacobo said the Department of Children & Families would analyze a sample of reoffenders the newspaper identified to determine what went wrong as it reviews the program from top to bottom.
“The only thing I can hope is that we come up with something better so that we get a larger percentage of these guys not to hurt people anymore,’’ said Jacobo, the agency’s interim secretary. “The biggest wish would be that we could stop it all. I’m not naive enough to think that that’s going to happen, but I think we can do better.’’