Are Sex Offender Laws Working?

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By: Mike Vasilinda
September 6, 2013

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 says such cases are far too common. “I think there is some judicial and legal view of what constitutes trigger? 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,” says Dr. Jay Reeve, Ph.D, Psychologist.

Nearly 700 sex offenders are being kept past the sentences because they are considered a danger to repeat. Cherish Periwinkle’s mother told a legislative panel this week, that predators should never be allowed to be free. “They should have an ankle bracelet. They should have a tattoo on their forehead,” says Rayne Perrywinkle, Mother.

Psychologist Reeve says 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,” says Reeve.

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

The Department of Children and Families isn’t talking about sex offender reforms until after it completes a review of the program, that’s September 23rd. 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.

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