Fla. sex offender program flawed

Offenders can remain locked up after sentence

Headline Goes Here

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A report on sex offenders in Florida shows that 499 convicted offenders committed more than 2,700 new crimes. Some were repeat sex offenses in the 10 years following their release from prison.

Top lawmakers are now calling for the law to be fixed to keep them from hurting new victims.

Top legislative leaders are vowing to make a crackdown on sex offenders one of their top priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

In Tallahassee, the top priority is trying to find out why a law designed to protect people from sex offenders isn't working as well as it should.

Cherish Perrywinkle, an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl who police said was abducted and killed by a known sex offender, could have been alive today if a law named for another dead child had worked the way it's intended, officials say.

The Jimmy Ryce act allows the state to keep offenders locked up, even after their sentence is over. Donald Smith, the man accused of killing Cherish, was confined for three years, but was let go when prosecutors didn't pursue the case.

"We look at several thousand files every single year," said Dan Montaldi, administrator for the Sexually Violent Predator Program.

Fewer than 700 predators remain locked up under the law. Yet the state database lists more than 10,000 sexual predators.

Keeping someone locked up after their sentence has expired as a complicated process. There are at least three hearings with psychiatrist and psychologist, and then a judge has to weigh in. Even then, there's still no guarantee a predator won't be released.

"They'll spend several years in treatment, and then the court reviews their case on a yearly bases," said Montaldi.

Robert Talbot was convicted on eight counts of molesting kids, some under the age of 12.

"I did monstrous things, therefore I am a monster," said Talbot. "I shouldn't be around children. If I was ever to be released around children, I shouldn't be."

A study on why the law isn't doing better is due in September.

Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.