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Legislation protects vulnerable Floridians
Gov. Rick Scott signs Senate Bills 522, 524, 526 and 528
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Gov. Rick Scott signs Senate Bills 522, 524, 526 and 528 April 1 while surrounded by supporters of additional laws to protect against sexual offenders.
Gov. Rick Scott signed four pieces of legislation Tuesday, April 1, designed to better protect vulnerable Floridians, especially children.

Senate Bills 522, 524, 526 and 528 provide additional protections against sexual offenders.

In a press release Scott said, “The safety of Florida’s families, especially our children is of paramount importance and I am proud to sign this legislation that adds protections for vulnerable Floridians during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As a father of two girls and a grandfather of three boys, I think about how the legislation I am signing today will affect Florida’s families. It will make Florida’s children safer and adds protections for our communities, especially for our children. These measures will make a positive difference for generations to come.”

SB 522 requires sheriffs to refer prisoners who are serving sentences in a county detention facility for civil commitment proceedings if those prisoners are registered sexual offenders or sexual predators and have previously committed a sexually violent offense. The legislation also adds a state attorney, law enforcement officer and victim’s advocate as advisory members to the multidisciplinary team that currently evaluates offenders who are considered for civil confinement. The bill expands requirements for Department of Children and Families release notifications to include the sheriff of the county in which the person intends to reside.

SB 524 requires a person be defined as a sexually violent predator and be subject to civil confinement after a finding by two or more members of a multidisciplinary team. It requires higher education institutions to tell students about a sexual predator’s presence on campus.

SB 526 increases the length of sentences for some adult-on-minor sexual offenses and prohibits incentive gain-time for offenders convicted of certain sexual offenses. The legislation suspends (tolls) post-release supervision of offenders while in DCF custody as part of the civil commitment process and requires the court to order community supervision (split sentences) after release from prison for certain sexual offenses.

SB 528 requires registrants to report vehicle information, internet identifiers, palm prints, passports, professional licenses, immigration status, volunteer work at a higher education institution and other information. The legislation strengthens current law by requiring registrants to provide information on vehicles they own and on vehicles they operate that are owned by any person who resides with the registrant.

SB 528 was amended by the Judiciary Committee to increase protections against sexual offenders who may seek to avoid registration requirements by obtaining a legal name change.

“The sexual predator bills signed into law by Governor Scott protect Florida families by keeping the most dangerous predators behind bars and by providing law enforcement the tools we need to track these individuals after release. I thank Governor Scott for his quick action on these bills,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri echoed those sentiments.

Gualtieri said, “We appreciate the efforts of the Governor and legislature in working with and receiving input from law enforcement to craft the sexual predator/offender bills that will be signed into law today. The various pieces of legislation as a whole will not only increase accountability for sex offenders, but make Florida’s communities safer through its enhanced and broadened registration requirements.”
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