FDLE: Most sex offenders register with local police

Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Nearly nine in 10 sex offenders are registering in person with law enforcement twice a year as required by the Jessica Lunsford Act, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement official said Thursday.

The 88 percent mark is up 10 percent from last year, Donna Uzzell, director of FDLE's Criminal Justice Information Program, told the Senate Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations.

The 2005 act was named after a 9-year-old Homosassa girl who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive, allegedly by a convicted sex offender. The man charged with her murder, John Couey, is scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 12 in Miami.

The law requires 25-year minimum prison terms for people convicted of certain sex crimes against children and lifetime tracking by Global Positioning System satellite once they are out of prison. It also strengthened registration requirements for sex offenders by requiring them to report in person to law enforcement twice a year.

Of 39,000 sexual offenders in the state's database, about 1,060 of those have absconded — the lowest rate in the nation, Uzzell told the committee.

The Florida Shared School Results, a database of background checks of school employees set up by the FDLE, is being used extensively by school districts, Uzzell said. There are 322,319 people in the system, and it has received 63,270 inquiries.

FDLE created the database because of complaints after the Lunsford Act's implementation that duplicate background checks had to be obtained by districts whose employees worked in multiple counties. The checks can cost up to $100. The new system enables districts to obtain background checks when another district has already done one on a particular employee.

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