Two years after Florida deputies found 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford’s body buried in garbage bags a few yards from her home, the convicted sex offender who told police he buried her alive is going on trial in Miami, the Miami Herald reports. Lunsford’s family already has attained some measure of justice. Florida was the first state to pass a ”Jessie’s Law,” which aims to track sex offenders better and keep them away from children. Twenty other states have followed suit in the past year. Florida’s version, passed in 2005, requires school districts to do background checks on contractors and vendors who may come in contact with children. It requires sex offenders to register in person every six months with their local sheriff’s office. Law enforcement agencies have beefed up efforts to track down the ones who don’t.
John Couey, the man accused of killing Jessica, was required to register his address with authorities, but he never let anyone know he had moved. No one checked. Authorities searched for the little girl for nearly three weeks without realizing Couey lived near her home. Even though he was convicted in 1991 of trying to sexually assault a child, he was allowed to work as a mason’s assistant at Jessica’s school. Since passage of the law, school officials have done background checks on 322,000 contractors and vendors. Miami-Dade County schools have checked on 12,000 people and rejected 480 because they had criminal records. One month before Jessica was killed, Florida law enforcers had lost track of at least 1,800 sexual offenders, a Miami Herald investigation revealed. In a little more than a year since the law was enacted, the absconder list is down to 1,027.