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Data alone may not measure rehabilitation odds of sex offenders

In a recent post, we discussed some of the pending sex offender legislation before Florida lawmakers. In this post, we provide an update on how some of those proposals have fared in the Florida Senate.

One article described the response of several Senate committees as a flurry of unanimous votes. A similar reception is expected in the Florida House of Representatives.

What’s most telling about the bills are the accompanying statements from lawmakers. One Senator has gone on record as hoping that Florida’s sex crime penalties will become the toughest in the nation. Another bill would make sex crimes committed by an adult against a minor punishable by life in prison, instead of the current maximum sentence of 30 years. Yet another bill would deny certain offenders good behavior incentives in the form of shorter sentences.

Florida’s Department of Children & Families oversees a sex offender program that evaluates convicted individuals for civil confinement. Although some lawmakers might prefer to remove any discretionary authority from that process, the new head of the DCF program has stood firm, reminding policy makers of the importance of making decisions based on face-to-face interviews with offenders, rather than just data or mandatory outcomes.

A sex crimes lawyer knows that a conviction for any level of a sexual offense can potentially turn an individual’s life upside down. Even offenses that don’t require mandatory sex offender registration can nevertheless affect an individual’s ability to reintegrate into society. From housing restrictions to unsuccessful job applications, a criminal record arising from a sex crimes conviction can have lasting consequences. With such dire consequences, the importance of consulting with an experienced sex crimes lawyer is clear.

Source: Florida Times-Union, “Lawmakers move quickly on rewrite of Florida sexual predator laws,” Matt Dixon, Jan. 14, 2014

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