tampabay.com

Probation and sex offenders

By DAVID BALLINGRUD
Published January 15, 2006


TOUGH LAWS AND RULES FOR SEX OFFENDERS ...

Sex offenders generally have the strictest conditions of probation supervision, including limitations on where they live, visit and work. They must comply with registration requirements and submit to unannounced searches of their homes and computers.

JUST GOT TOUGHER ...

The state Department of Corrections has adopted a "no tolerance" attitude toward probation violations, but a bigger change came when the Jessica Lunsford Act went into effect last September. The law:

* Increases penalties for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 to either life in prison or a minimum mandatory 25-year prison term, followed by lifelong electronic monitoring. Violations of probation in existing cases can also prompt monitoring.

* Establishes background check requirements for individuals with access to school campuses.

* Requires sexual predators to wait 30 years, instead of 20, after finishing probation to petition to remove their predator designation.

* Increases reporting requirements for offenders and predators.

* Allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty for a sexual predator convicted of murder.

* Requires all county misdemeanor probation officials to check the state's sex offender registry for each probationer assigned to them.

More detailed information on the Jessica Lunsford Act can be found at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Web site: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/ ...AND MAY GET TOUGHER STILL

Bills pending in the upcoming Legislative session would:

* Prohibit sexual predators from residing within 2,500 feet of places where children regularly congregate. The current limit is 1,000 feet.

* Restrict protection of sex offenders in hurricane shelters. Counties would have to provide separate facilities.

There are likely to be other proposals.