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New study could aid in sentencing sex offenders
More than 650 men being held in a state prison are so dangerous a judge has determined they can't be released even though they have served their sentences.
They are all sex offenders deemed likely to offend again.
A new study aims to help prosecutors better predict who might be dangerous in the future.
There are currently 657 sex offenders still locked up in Florida even though they completed their sentences. The law keeping them in jail indefinitely was passed in 1998 after the brutal rape and murder of nine year old Jimmy Ryce.
Donald Ryce Father
"He was a very smart, perfect child."
Named for 9 year old, the Jimmy Ryce act allows those whom psychologists deem still dangerous to be involuntarily committed.
David Monfaldi, Administrator: Sexually Violent Predator Program
"There is a few people at the facility who have been there ever since the beginning of the program in 1999. Other people stay for varying lengths of time."
Donald Smith, the man accused of killing eight year old Cherish Perrywinkel was committed under the Jimmy Ryce Act, that was 1999, but prosecutors didn't pursue permanent lockup. Now a new study of sex offenders in Florida shows what many already know, offenders, like Donald Smith, are incurable.
Dr. Jill Levenson, Lynn University
"After ten years, nearly fourteen percent of the sample had been rearrested for sexual crimes".
Smith was arrested again in 2009 for a sex crime, but because the charge was knocked down to a misdemeanor, a risk assessment wasn't triggered.
Dr. Jill Levenson
When we are making assessments solely on the offense of conviction, here's an example of where that criteria can really underestimate the risk of somebody's likelihood to commit a future violent offense."
The Hope the new study is to better predict who will be dangerous in the future.
For tips on keeping your children safe, visit jimmyryce.org. The site offers tips, called Great Escape Maneuvers, or GEMS, for children in difficult situations.