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The Florida Bar

Jimmy Ryce Act, Part 2

Broward criminal attorney William Moore would like to extend his sympathy to the Ryce family, who have suffered due to their son’s horrific murder as well as the death of Fort Lauderdale-Dade resident Claudine Ryce, Jimmy’s mother, which was announced today. The Jimmy Ryce Act, as discussed yesterday, was enacted after 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce was murdered in 1995 in Redlands in Fort Lauderdale-Dade County. The goal of the law is to prevent people prone to committing sex crimes from re-entering society, even after they have served their prison sentences, by putting committing them in a civil treatment center. Broward criminal lawyer William Moore does not believe that the intent of the Act is being carried out properly, as the treatment center in Arcadia has failed to live up to expectations.

The Florida legislature unanimously passed the Jimmy Ryce Act, also known as the Involuntary Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators’ Treatment and Care Act, in 1998. Jimmy Ryce was nine years old when he was abducted at gunpoint on his way home from the bus stop after school. The perpetrator was Juan Carlos Chavez, a handyman in the area, who was linked to the crime after Jimmy’s backpack was discovered at his residence. Chavez confessed after 55 hours of questioning by police and eventually led law enforcement officials to Jimmy’s body, describing in detail the events leading up to Jimmy’s death.

According to Chavez, he abducted Jimmy and took him back to the trailer Chavez resided in on the property where he worked. Chavez confessed to raping Jimmy and told police that Jimmy ran to the front door to escape when he heard a helicopter overheard. In order to prevent the child’s escape, Chavez shot Jimmy, and stayed with him until he died. Later, Chavez dismembered Jimmy’s body, hiding it in cement. Chavez was convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault, and first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. At this time, Chavez remains on death row, as he is still exhausting his appeals.

Interestingly, it is not clear that the man who kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and eventually killed Jimmy Ryce was a known sexual predator. For example, his profile on the Florida Sex Offender Registry does not list any qualifying offenses for sex offender/sexual predator registration prior to the offenses he committed against Jimmy, nor does the website of the Jimmy Ryce Center claim that his death could have been prevented by a similar law. The Jimmy Ryce Act has good intentions, but the state has failed to adequately provide treatment. Locking up people indefinitely for the purposes of treating them – and to pre-empt crime – is not productive if there is no hope of reintegrating those offenders into society. The extremely limited treatment, combined with the bad conditions and lack of reintegration program, are not conducted in the spirit of rehabilitation of sex offenders.

Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer William Moore has experience in a wide range of criminal defense situations. A conviction for a sex crime can have consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, contact William Moore, P.A., which is an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

This article should be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice nor as implied representation of any person.

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