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- 2014 - February - 5th -

Predator bills may get first-day hearings

From The News Service of Florida

Four bills in a Florida Senate effort to crack down on sexually violent predators are moving swiftly toward a hearing on the opening day of the legislative session in March. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the proposals (SB 522, SB 524, SB 526 and SB 528) on Tuesday, all by unanimous vote.

Legislative leaders have made the issue a priority since the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in August that nearly 600 sexually violent predators had been released only to be convicted of new sex crimes.

“I want to get as close to zero tolerance as we can get,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

Senate Bill 522 requires sheriffs to refer prisoners who are serving sentences in county detention facilities for civil commitment proceedings if they are registered sex offenders or sexual predators and have previously committed sexually violent offenses.

Senate Bill 524 requires a person be subject to civil confinement after a finding by two or more members of a multidisciplinary team. SB 526 increases the length of sentences for certain adult-on-minor sexual offenses and prohibits incentive gain-time for certain sexual offenses.

And SB 528 requires registered offenders to report vehicle information, Internet identifiers, palm prints, passports, professional licenses, immigration status, volunteer work at higher education institutions, and other information. Only SB 528 was amended during Tuesday’s committee meeting.

It now carries increased protections against sexual offenders who may seek to avoid registration requirements by legally changing their names.

The 60-day legislative session starts March 4.

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