Fla. sex offender law questioned

DCF orders review of law after Donald Smith case


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It has been 18 years since 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce was raped and murdered. The law named for Jimmy allows the state to keep sex offenders locked up indefinitely if they are considered a threat.

Now, many believe the law isn't working as well as it should.

Donald James Smith is accused of strangling 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle just three weeks after being released from jail. Smith has been in and out of the special prison for sex offenders.

Psychologist Jay Reeve said such cases are far too common.

"I think there is some judicial and legal view of what constitutes trigger?" said Reeve. "Under what circumstances can you actually flag one of these individuals, regardless of what the plea deal has been as someone who is likely to reoffend."

Nearly 700 sex offenders are being kept past the sentences because they are considered a danger to repeat. Perrywinkle's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, told a legislative panel this week, that predators should never be allowed to be free.

"They should have an ankle bracelet," said Rayne Perrywinkle. "They should have a tattoo on their forehead."

Reeve said there is no magic cure for predators.

"There's no magic bullet, there is no magic program that are going to make these guys better, not only over night but even in quite a while," said Reeve.

Since the Smith case, the Department of Children and Families has ordered a review of the law.

DCF isn't talking about sex offender reforms until after it completes a review of the program, that's Sept. 23. Then the next day, they will present findings to lawmakers.

The Sex Offender law is named for Jimmy Ryce. He was raped and murdered just weeks before his 10th birthday. Jimmy would have been 28 later this month.

In recent years Ryce's mother died prematurely and earlier this year, his sister committed suicide.