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President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 14, 2014

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Legislation to Protect Florida’s Children from Sexually Violent Predators Passes First Senate Committees

SB 522, 524 Pass Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee; 526, 528 Pass Senate Criminal Justice Committee

Tallahassee —

This week a bi-partisan legislative package, which aims to substantially strengthen Florida’s protections against sexually violent predators and includes SB 522, 524, 526 and 528, passed through its first round of Senate committees.

On Monday, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by Senator Greg Evers (R-Baker) unanimously passed Senate Bill 526, sponsored by Senator Bradley, and SB 528, sponsored by Senator Evers, which pertain to criminal penalties for sexual offenses and the registry for sexual offenders. Additionally, SB 522, sponsored by Senator Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring), pertaining to the involuntary civil commitment of sexually violent predators, and SB 524, sponsored by Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) pertaining to Department of Children and Families responsibilities for sexually violent predators, passed through the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs with unanimous, bi-partisan support today.  

“The most limited government has the responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens.  That is why the Senate is uniting to make Florida 'scorched earth' for sexually violent predators," said Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville).  "We can do more to prevent acts of violent sexual aggression.  We can do more to advocate and care for victims.  We can do more to investigate, prosecute and punish these vicious criminals.  We can do more to keep them far away from our children.  Passing this bi-partisan legislation is a moral imperative."

Senate Bill 526 by Senator Bradleyincreases the length of sentences for certain adult-on-minor sexual offenses and also prohibits incentive gain-time for offenders convicted of certain sexual offenses. The legislation suspends (tolls) post-release supervision of offenders while in Department of Children and Families (DCF) custody as part of the civil commitment process and requires the court to order community supervision (split sentences) after release from prison for certain sexual offenses.

Senate Bill 528 by Senator Eversrequires registrants to report vehicle information, Internet identifiers, palm prints, passports, professional licenses, immigration status, volunteer work at a higher education institution, and other information. The legislation further strengthens current law by requiring registrants to provide information on vehicles they own and on vehicles they operate that are owned by any person who resides with the registrant.

Senate Bill 522 by Senator Grimsleyrequires the sheriff to refer a prisoner who is serving a sentence in a county detention facility for civil commitment proceedings if the prisoner is a registered sexual offender or sexual predator and has previously committed a sexually violent offense. The legislation also adds a state attorney, law enforcement officer and victim’s advocate as advisory members to the multidisciplinary team that currently evaluates offenders who are considered for civil confinement. Additionally, the bill expands requirements for DCF release notifications to include the sheriff of the county in which the person intends to reside.

Senate Bill 524 by Senator Sobelwould require that a person be defined as a sexually violent predator and be subject to civil confinement after a finding by two or more members of a multidisciplinary team, and requires higher education institutions to tell students about a sexual predator’s presence on campus.

Detailed bill summaries prepared by committee staff as well as the full text of the four bills listed above are available via the Senate’s website, www.FLSenate.gov.

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