Under pressure to fix Florida’s program for treating the state’s most violent sexual predators, state legislators today will take the first step toward overhauling a system that has allowed hundreds of dangerous pedophiles and rapists to avoid therapy and return to communities, the Miami Herald reports. A proposal to improve the Sexually Violent Predator Program marks the first serious effort to tackle problems in the system created in 1998. It includes hiring more prosecutors to speed up commitment trials. Lawmakers aren’t finished mending the program, which costs taxpayers more than $26 million annually.
The bipartisan measure comes three months after the Herald exposed widespread flaws in the program, including a lack of security at the treatment center and the release of offenders who went on to commit new sex crimes against women and children. The Herald’s series, Predators Among Us, documented serious problems at one center, including marijuana and child pornography arriving in peanut-butter jars and transistor radios, suicide attempts, stabbings, and coverups by the center’s staff.