Sexual predators have the attention of Florida lawmakers this spring in the wake of three recent child abductions and murders.
Lawmakers are considering legislation to keep them in prison longer or track them electronically for life, but that may solve only half the problem.
The accused murderers of Carlie Brucia, Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde were all parole violators who could have been sent back to prison, but weren’t. Legislation to require a hearing on violators has languished because of a $56 million price tag, but saying you can’t put a price tag on his daughter's life, Mark Lunsford came to the Capitol wearing a tie bearing his daughter's picture. At his side was America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh.
Mark Lunsford says, "We’ve got to get them off our street, we have to save our children. I would pay any price to bring my daughter back and I’ll pay any price tag to save another child."
Attorney Gen. Charlie Crist has been pushing the Anti-Murder Act to send parole violators back to prison. He believes all three girls would still be alive if the bill had been in place 18 months ago.
Crist says, "I mean, damn it it’s time to act, and that’s what has to happen, forgive my language, you know these poor people have suffered."
But legislation to track sex offenders by GPS is moving. Only a few details need to be worked out between the House and Senate. Sponsor Everett Rice says it will make a big difference.
Rep. Everett Rice, (R) Pinellas, says, "When they get out, if they are on supervision or if they’ve been declared a predator, they need to be monitored for the rest of their life."
The hope is that Jessica’s bill will clear the House and the Senate this week and then go to the governor for his signature. After July 1 or even sooner, GPS tracking devices could be on every newly released sex offender.
The state House unanimously approved the Jessica Lunsford Act Tuesday afternoon. The bill will be on the Senate floor Wednesday and could be headed for the governor’s desk by the end of the week.