Lawmakers seek changes after Perrywinkle death

Lawmakers meeting to discuss strength of sex offender laws

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Lawmakers are speaking out and calling for change since the tragic death of Cherish Perrywinkle. 

While the next legislative session isn't until next spring, lawmakers are starting to meeting with agencies now in the criminal justice system to determine if laws on sex offenders are strong enough and focused enough to keep dangerous predators off the streets.

The concern started when the media and the public started learning more about kidnapping and murder suspect, Donald Smith. 

Smith has a lengthy rap sheet that dates back decades, and many of the crimes on the list involve Smith targeting children.

"From a policy perspective, it's important we look at the state statutes and find out where the loopholes are," said Florida State Representative Janet Adkins.

Adkins told Channel 4 Wednesday that she plans on meeting with groups like the State Attorney's Office and other members of the criminal justice system in the coming months to talk about change.

"From the news reports, it looks like he's been engaged with the law since the the 70's," said Adkins. "So, you're looking at 40 years he's been engaged with some criminal activity. The reports that three felony charges were reduced to misdemeanor has me concerned."

Governor Rick Scott also spoke out in concern over sex offender laws this week. 

"One thing we need to do in our state, when anything happens, that a family gets hurt, injured, killed, you have to review what the laws are in the state, see what we can do differently," said Scott. "First thing is think about family." 

State Senator Aaron Bean also weighed in Wednesday. Bean wants to know if Donald Smith was properly reviewed under the Jimmy Rice Act, which was instituted after a child was murdered in the 90's. That act is designed to have mandatory reviews for sex offenders to determine if they'll re-offend before being released. 

"We don't want to just have a law on the books and not have it enforced," said Bean. "We want to make sure there's existing laws that should have caught him. Why didn't they catch him? We need to look at all that to make sure our state is safe as it can be."  

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