Tallahassee approves longer sentences for sex predators

Author: Nicholas Jones, Associate producer, njones@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 04 2014 03:41:13 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 04 2014 06:11:12 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

After legislation was approved by a state Senate committee Tuesday in Tallahassee, sex predators will now face tougher registration and longer sentences.

The legislation has quickly been making its way through congress  after the murder of Cherish Perrywinkle last year. Donald Smith, the man accused of killing Cherish, avoided the screening that could have shown he was still dangerous.

"We want to make sure that they are not in society and hurting our precious kids," said Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel. 

It is widely believed if this package of four bills had been in place a year ago, Smith would have never been able to get out of prison.

"The bill fixes loopholes where inmates were inadvertently released from custody," said Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley. "Under this bill, these individuals will be detained and evaluated for civil commitment."

The four bills are likely to be voted on by the Senate during the first day of the legislative session, which makes them likely to be the first bills signed into law.