When Florida legislators unanimously passed the Jessica Lunsford Act eight months ago, they thought they were sending a clear message that the state would come down hard on sex offenders, says the Palm Beach Post. Yet the state corrections department has used less than $1 million of the $7.3 million allocated by lawmakers. Only 4.5 percent of the 6,206 people on probation or community control for sexual battery or lewd and lascivious conduct were being tracked by the department using the electronic monitoring devices in December 2004. Jessica Lunsford, 9, was abducted in February 2005 and found dead weeks later. A registered sex offender who was under state supervision at the time was charged in her slaying.
Corrections officials said the number of offenders monitored electronically grew very little last year – perhaps by about 100 people statewide. ,”You’re dealing with one of the major issues in the state,” said Rep. Jack Seiler. “It has been on the front burner at every breakfast table, it’s been on the front burner in every legislative committee meeting, and the Department of Corrections is not getting the message that they need to put this on the front burner of their department’s agenda.” Officials blamed judges, saying it was their responsibility to order electronic monitors for sex offenders. “It’s very convenient to blame judges for everything right now,” Seiler said. “But they have to be more proactive. They can be quicker.”