Florida sex offender Douglas Gray was released from prison without getting treatment on curbing his deviant urges, accepting responsibility for his crimes, and developing empathy for his victims, says the Miami Herald. Fifteen months after his release, he wooed a 14-year-old girl over a telephone chat line, had sex with the child — and when she told him she didn’t want to see him anymore, he beat her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Gray is among hundreds of sexual offenders who fell through the cracks of a state program created in 1998 to protect the public from men who prey on the weak and the vulnerable. The law says they can leave custody only if psychologists say they no longer pose a threat to the community, and a court agrees. Legislsators called it the Jimmy Ryce Act, in memory of a 9-year-old Miami boy who was sexually assaulted, murdered, and buried inside several large planters by a handyman in 1995. Seven years after the law’s passage, Florida’s program for screening, confining, and treating sexual offenders who pose the greatest threat to women and children is failing, a six-month investigation by The Miami Herald found. Woefully underfunded and barely regulated, the Jimmy Ryce Act stands as an example of how lawmakers are quick to react to heinous crimes but often fail to stay the course once the stories fade from the spotlight.