September 1, 2005
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
TALLAHASSEE - As part of its implementation of the Jessica Lunsford Act, which goes into effect today, the Florida Department of Corrections has created a special unit of sexual supervision experts to tackle the tough work of tracking and overseeing Florida's sexual predators and offenders.
The Sexual Offender Alert Field Enforcement (SAFE) Special Operations Unit met for intensive training on August 24, at the Wakulla Correctional Institution. The SAFE unit includes probation officers, supervisors and administrators from every region of the state. The training emphasized statutory revisions, as well as enhanced interagency communication with other criminal justice entities, including the courts, law enforcement and state attorneys' offices.
"Violent, sexual crimes against our innocent children are perhaps the most heinous imaginable. The added protections from the Jessica Lunsford Act will provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to protect children from sexual offenders and predators," Governor Bush said. "This new law complements our already very strong laws and regulations we have implemented to address sexual predators and sexual offenders. The creation of the SAFE unit will help to ensure our law enforcement agencies are working together efficiently to protect our children."
On May 2 Governor Bush signed the Jessica Lunsford Act into law with the father of the slain 9-year-old at his side. The legislation strengthens punishment and monitoring of child sex abusers and requires those who prey on children to be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, and to be tracked for life by electronic monitoring devices, if they are ever released.
"You are the nucleus of this effort," said Corrections Secretary James V. Crosby, addressing the SAFE Special Operations Unit. "You are the best and the brightest the department employs. You already had a job, now you have a mission. This is a new era in the world of probation and I commend you for taking on this important challenge to protect Florida's children."
Probation officers are the front line of defense when sexual offenders are placed in Florida's communities. As of August 2005, there are more than 30,000 sexual offenders in Florida, of which approximately 7,600 are currently under supervision by the Florida Department of Corrections.
The Department of Corrections protects the public through the incarceration of more than 85,000 felons in state prisons and community supervision of more than 144,000 offenders, statewide. For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 850/488-0420.