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Law Enforcement on Predator Watch in Florida

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy still carries a picture of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford in his car. He’s the sheriff who came to the state Capitol on a mission. He wants to close the loopholes in the law that he believes led to Jessica’s death.

He says, "I darn sure don’t want to see a young little girl at the age of nine being taken from a home, sexually assaulted and killed. They want to try to fix this."

State law failed Jessica in a number of ways. Accused perpetrator John Couey was a registered sex offender. He had moved and failed to report the move, as required by law.

One option now on the table is GPS tracking for offenders.

Everett Rice is leading the charge.

Rep. Everett Rice, (R) Pinellas, says, "You build in certain parameters that zones of exclusion. If they go outside of those parameters, it automatically notifies you."

The attorney general wants to send probation violators like Couey back to prison the moment there is a violation of their release terms.

Charlie Crist, Florida Attorney General, says, "You know the bracelets are nice, the jewelry is okay, but I think it's more important to have bars."

A third avenue being pushed by the sheriff and some lawmakers is tougher sentences the first time a person shows signs of preying on children.

The downside of all three options being considered is their cost, but lawmakers say because of the emotion of this case they will have resolve. The sheriff has taken the death of Jessica personally and is vowing to stay on lawmakers' case until they make the changes he says are needed.


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