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Florida lawmakers discuss sex crime sentencing

Florida readers might be surprised to learn that only two sex crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences under state law. Both involve a sexual assault against a child less than 12 years of age. Although potential charges for other sex offenses may also involve long prison sentences, there may not be a statutory minimum for those crimes.

A sex crimes attorney might observe that at least one state law is already designated for evaluating the potential recidivism of convicted sex offenders nearing the end of their incarceration. Called the Jimmy Ryce law, the provision allows state officials -- including psychiatrists and/or psychologists -- to evaluate inmates serving time for sexually violent crimes 180 days prior to their release. Those that are deemed likely to reoffend may be detained at a Florida treatment center.


According to data, 594 inmates who were evaluated under the provision in the last 14 years subsequently were convicted of additional sex crimes. Perhaps due to those numbers, state lawmakers are considering imposing additional sentencing guidelines for sex crime convictions.

Of course, imposing harsher sentencing guidelines may impact taxpayers and the public fisc. State prisons may need to expand their capacity to accommodate more inmates. Longer sentences will likely require more taxpayer funding, as well. In addition, it might be helpful for lawmakers to examine the recidivism rates for other crimes. As a group, sex offenders usually do not rank at the top of the list of repeat offenders. Before changing state sentencing laws, lawmakers might benefit from a additional criminal data.


Source:, “Florida lawmakers vow swift action to protect public from sex predators,” Sally Kestin, Aug. 25, 2013

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