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State Rep. Adkins Committed To Filing Sex Offender Reforms Next Session

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Florida State Representative Janet Adkins is committed to filing legislation reforming the way state law enforcement officials and prosecutors deal with sexual offenders during the state's next legislative session.

Speaking Tuesday with WJCT, Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, said a legislative hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Jacksonville City Hall looking at sex offenders will be the first of many she will sponsor across the state to examine potential reforms. The hearing is open to the public.

"We want to hear from these individuals who are in the trenches every day, working to keep our children safe," Adkins said, referring to a panel of experts from state and local law enforcement and child services agencies who will be in attendance at Wednesdays' hearing.

The substance of the legislation she will file will be based on what she called a "collaborative process" between experts and the public.

"At this point we're in the information gathering stage," she said.

Among the items she expects will be discussed Wednesday are community supervision of convicted sex offenders, the state's civil commitment process, and victims' rights and advocacy.

Adkins said she is excited to have heard from other local state lawmakers, namely State Senator Aaron Bean, State Senator Audrey Gibson, and State Representative Matt Hudson, who are also interested in studying the issue.

"There is a lesser value on life than what we've ever had before," she said, responding to the question of whether there are greater cultural issues that play into the prevalence of sexual crimes.

While she was unsure whether culture could be changed to prevent the crimes, she said holding people responsible for their actions and ensuring appropriate consequences are a component of prevention.

The push to examine how the state treats sex offenders, specifically repeat predators, comes after the abduction, rape, and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in June.

Her alleged killer is a repeat sex offender who had been released from jail only about a month before he is said to have taken her life.

The legislative hearing will be held Wednesday, September 4th, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room of Jacksonville City Hall.

Those wishing to submit questions in advance of the hearing may email janet.adkins@myfloridahouse.gov.

Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.