FLORIDA News

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Missing and Slain children in FL clip

Post by oviedo45 on Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:57 pm

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/crime/orl-florida-missing-slain-florida-children,0,231518.photogallery

It is truly sad how many children we have lost in Florida.
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Florida Guardian ad Litem Legal Brief Newsletter 2009-2010

Post by tears4caylee on Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:54 pm

http://www.guardianadlitem.org/documents/December2009January2010FloridaGuardianadLitemLegalBriefsNewsletter.pdf
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DCF questioned over handling of abuse accusation Miami Florida

Post by tears4caylee on Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:05 pm



April 7, 2010

MIAMI -- A judge is criticizing state child welfare officials after a man was accused of abusing his daughter despite more than one visit from investigators, a newspaper reported.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that an investigator with the Department of Children and Families found a 39-year-old Miami man locked in a bedroom and undressed, with his daughter naked in an adjacent bathroom, in August 2009.
Citing a DCF investigative report, the newspaper said the investigator ordered the man to sleep in a separate bedroom and then left. Two days later, another investigator took the girl into state custody after she found the man naked with his daughter in a motel. The man was later arrested and charged with multiple counts of having sex with an underage relative.
The investigator from the first visit and a supervisor have been fired.
"Clearly, there wasn't a sense of urgency in this case, and, clearly, there was no utilization of common sense," DCF Secretary George Sheldon told the Herald.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, who is presiding over the girl's case in juvenile court, said there are concerns from other judges, service providers and healthcare workers that there is an "environment of fear" that discourages investigators from acting more forcefully.
"They put the entire family preservation program into place without filling in the gaps, developing a good tracking mechanism or developing a safety or risk assessment," Cohen said. "I think that's dangerous. You can't have philosophy running the system. Safety has to run the system."
Child welfare officials say troubled families are being served through programs that offer parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence counseling and even hands-on home instruction to parents on a voluntary basis.
A department spokesman told the Associated Press Wednesday night that he was preparing a statement

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/07/1568310/incest-case-raises-questions-about.html#ixzz0lScGdN00


April 8, 2010
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-04-08/news/fl-dcf-policy-20100408_1_community-based-care-alliance-dcf-children-in-state-care
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DCF to formally track prevention efforts in Florida

Post by tears4caylee on Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:12 pm

Published Friday, February 12, 2010


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The state's child abuse hot line got a worried call in May 2008, alleging that a baby's father had passed out snorting cocaine and the boy was chewing on a cable wire.
Jarkevis Allen's father admitted smoking marijuana, but denied other drug abuse and refused tests. The father rejected an offer for drug treatment and the case was closed within the required 60 days. Five months later, 1-year-old Jarkevis was dead. The medical examiner said he had severe liver lacerations indicative of abuse and ruled the death a homicide. His father is awaiting trial on second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges.
Child advocates say the Department of Children and Families is spending $208 million a year to keep troubled families like the Allens together by offering them prevention services, but isn't tracking whether the program works and the state's representatives sometimes don't check back with the family until it's too late.
The program is supposed to help families where the problems don't rise to the level of putting the children in foster care, like severe physical abuse or neglect, but their long-term welfare could be at stake. DCF accepted a federal waiver in 2007 allowing unprecedented flexibility in funding abuse prevention services, which include parenting classes, substance abuse and mental health treatment and even emergency cash assistance.
But the agency isn't routinely following up in cases where they could legally remove a child, but instead are working with the family. There's also little tracking for high-risk cases where they can't legally remove a child. Critics say the lack of follow-up makes it difficult to determine if the assistance is helping and the situation hasn't gotten worse unless another report of abuse or neglect is made. Uncooperative parents aren't flagged, so investigators of future problems don't have that information.
Some DCF contractors say they're overwhelmed with families who don't follow through with crucial services, yet they have no way of getting those families back into the system unless another report of abuse or neglect is made.
DCF contractors also disagree about what should happen to families at that point.
Uncooperative families signal a child that's in danger and should be removed, says Gordon Johnson, president and CEO of Neighbor to Family, which works with DCF contractors to provide services to families in Daytona Beach and around the country.
"It's not happening (statewide)," said Johnson, a former head of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. "If we're providing services and they're not complying then the kids are in danger. It seems cut and dry to me."
There's often a fine line between calls that are labeled prevention or investigated as abuse. A study in Broward County showed nearly 50 percent of abuse hot line calls that were referred for prevention services should have been investigated as abuse.
Services and follow-up vary regionally, said Carole Shauffer, executive director of the Youth Law Center, who is on a DCF committee examining the issue. Some organizations contracted by DCF to run the program in their region merely send a letter to families offering services, while others make home visits and offer gift cards to entice families to participate.
Andrea Moore, a Broward attorney and child advocate, says there should be a more diligent effort to link at risk families with diversion services.
"So far there hasn't been because not every family has services," Moore said.
There's also confusion about who is responsible for getting uncooperative families into the next tier of help — local contractors or child protective investigators.
A main goal of the program is to lower the number of Florida children in foster care. Since the waiver, the state has more than 10,000 fewer children in foster care, dropping from 29,255 to 18,583. The length of stay for children who end up in foster care is also shorter. The agency says it hopes to reduce the number of children in care by 50 percent in the next few years.
But the proportion of children entering foster care whose families have received prevention services is no different from those who weren't given services. Of the children who received prevention services, about 20 percent were put in foster care after DCF worked with the family at home after the waiver started in 2007-2008. That compares to 19 percent of children DCF the year before the waiver was granted, according to a University of South Florida study.
The lack of change could be because with fewer children in foster care, DCF is working in homes with families who may have higher risk factors. In the past, those children would have been removed immediately, said Mary Armstrong, a USF child and family studies assistant professor who is studying the waiver.
But child advocates aren't convinced.
"If (the family is) not engaging or everybody keeps coming back (into the system) then we might as well not waste our time with that service," said Cynthia Schuler, CEO of Kids Central Inc., a DCF contractor that provides services in central Florida. She spoke during a committee conference call.
DCF says a committee is looking at ways to improve diversion services. A new policy doesn't allow a case to be closed until an investigator can verify a family is actively pursuing whatever services they were refereed.
Last month, abuse hot line counselors began entering a family's information and what services they may need into a statewide database, allowing the agency to formally track whether families follow through with the services and if the services reduce abuse.
DCF is also retraining hot line workers on which families should be offered services and which qualify for abuse.
"We all agree that we've got to improve access and we need to follow up, said Alan Abramowitz, DCF's director of family safety. "I think we get better and better in tracking cases and being able to offer services."

http://m.naplesnews.com/news/2010/feb/12/dcf-formally-track-prevention-efforts-florida/
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by admin on Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:09 pm

This clip illustrates something that has ALWAYS bothered me about Ron and Misty. They BOTH did the Susan Smith thing...the looking down, not making eye contact...it's the same exact posture...



I was also watching Misty's NLP's and she is lying.
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GPS-Enabled Devices Enhance Florida's Foster Care

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:12 pm

To help streamline foster care caseworkers' workloads and validate
their field work, Florida is giving them mobile computing devices that
immediately upload crucial data in real time.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) recently procured and
distributed smartphones and laptops equipped with built-in cameras and a
software program that was developed in-house by the DCF. The solution,
Remote Data Capture, allows the state's more than 2,300 caseworkers to
take digital images -- stamped with the date, time and GPS-marked
location -- and immediately upload the information to the state's child
welfare data system.
Florida appears to be the first in the nation that's enabling foster
care caseworkers to digitally record their visits, according to Ramin
Kouzehkanani, the DCF's CIO.
"Our goal is for the caseworker to spend more time with the child and
less time doing paperwork," DCF Secretary George H. Sheldon said in a
press release. "Caseworkers with mobile computing devices have more time
to give children the attention and services they need to have a sense
of normalcy and safety in their lives."
"Florida is the only state in which caseworkers can upload in real
time information from their site visit directly into the DCF database
from the field," the release said. "GPS-stamped photos taken onsite add
an additional layer of integrity by ensuring every child is visited and
their condition accurately documented."
That extra layer also ensures due diligence is performed by the
caseworkers, as some have missed visits and made inaccurate visit
recordings. This issue came to light eight years ago, when a 4-year-old
girl in foster care went missing for more than a year before officials
realized she'd disappeared. Her DCF caseworker hadn't made the mandated
monthly visits to the girl's home, though she filed reports and told
judges the girl was fine, according to Orlando's WESH.com. The missing
girl -- Rilya Wilson -- has yet to be found and is presumed dead.
In the wake of that tragedy, lessons have been learned, said DCF
Chief Child Advocate Jim Kallinger. And while the state's foster care
caseworkers aren't mandated to use the mobile devices to digitally
record their visits, Kouzehkanani is hoping it becomes a best practice.
"The caseworkers love this. They have said to us this has really been
a timesaver for them," he said.
The technology is also tamperproof and adaptable, making it
compatible on various smartphones, cameras and laptops, according to the
state. And in the event of a stolen or lost mobile computing device,
the information stored on them is securely encrypted and can't be
accessed by an unauthorized user.
"This technology adds an extra layer of verification and efficiency
in being able to enter the data at the site instead of doing it back at
the office," Kallinger said. "They basically have a mobile office."
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FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Wed May 12, 2010 2:04 am

BRADENTON
- A free service that alerts subscribers to everything from law
enforcement emergencies to town hall meetings is becoming a crime
fighting tool.
Nixle recently released a news report about a Las Vegas community and
its use of Nixle to combat crime in their neighborhood.
The City of Bradenton Police Department launched a Nixle account last
winter.
Anyone is welcome to register for a Nixle account and receive brief
messages to their cellular phone or email account about matters
concerning the police department and the City. Register here:
http://local.nixle.com/alert/314306/.
The benefit of Nixle over other messaging services is that account
holders can select the type of news they want to receive, from
everything such as community events and programs sponsored by the police
department or just breaking news, such as an urgent public safety
alert. Account holders also choose how to receive the information.
For more information, contact Sgt. L.J. Millard at (941) 932-9300 or lj.millard@cityofbradenton.com



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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Thu May 13, 2010 2:46 pm

Florida's governor has signed a bill eliminating all time limits for
filing criminal or civil action alleging sexual abuse of children.
Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill (HB 525) on Tuesday. It lifts
statutes of limitations for pursuing criminal or civil sexual abuse
cases in which victims are younger than 16 at the time of the abuse.
The civil portion was opposed by the Florida Catholic Conference,
which contends it would create great uncertainty for any organization.
The Roman Catholic Church has faced numerous lawsuits alleging sexual
abuse by priests.
Florida law previously had various time limits in place for pursuing
criminal and civil actions, depending on the age of the child.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Wed May 19, 2010 6:20 pm

The Somer Thompson foundation is
pushing for a new bill that could soon be in the hands of state
lawmakers.Somer's law, which is under final review by the
foundation, would require sex offenders and predators to live outside
Somer's safety zones -- or a one-mile radius from any school.The
petition also includes a change to the Amber Alert system, requiring an
Amber Alert status be issued within 30 minutes of a possible kidnapping.Jarred
Harrell, the man accused of killing the 7-year-old Orange Park girl, is
still in jail.He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday on
some of the 58 felony charges he is currently facing.Investigators
said Harrell kidnapped Somer on her way home from school in October.
Her body was found days later in a Georgia landfill.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Wed May 26, 2010 12:52 pm


A Flagler Beach fifth grader placed second in the U. S.
Department of Justice's 2010 National Missing Children's Day Poster
Contest
.
Out of 43 entries from Florida students, Old Kings Elementary
School student Thomas DeLeon's
placed second nationally for
his poster, "Bring Our Missing Children Home."
The national contest promotes awareness of missing and exploited
children issues, each state's missing persons agency selecting a winner
to represent their state.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says 46,965 children were
reported missing in the state in 2009. Florida's Missing Endangered
Persons Information Clearinghouse, housed at FDLE, provided direct
assistance in the recovery of 108 of them. Florida will hold its
official statewide commemoration of missing children on Sept. 13 at the
state Capitol, recognizing the efforts of Florida's police, citizens,
and individuals in the search and recovery of missing children.
To sign up to receive free Amber Alerts and Missing Child Alerts via
e-mail or cell phone text message, log onto www.missingchildrenalert.com.
To learn more about the Amber Plan and Florida's Missing Endangered
Persons Information Clearinghouse, visit www.fdle.state.fl.us.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Wed May 26, 2010 2:38 pm

A few months after a 10-year-old child was placed with eight other
children in a Tampa foster home overseen by a single mom, a 13-year-old
boy sneaked into his room and raped him in 2005.
But Hillsborough Kids Inc., a state contractor that placed the boy,
says it's not liable because it subcontracted with another agency which
directly cared for the boy. They contend the state Department of
Children and Families is ultimately responsible for overseeing its
providers, according to court documents.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of the boy has dragged on for three years
and is the crux of an ongoing argument between DCF and the contractors
it hires to place and monitor foster children: Who should be financially
responsible when one of the children is harmed?
That question has major repercussions for both taxpayers and the
children. If it's the state, the contractors would be off the hook and a
victimized foster child would be limited by law to receiving $200,000
in damages from the state unless the Legislature approves a higher
amount. If it's the contractors, an injured child could receive whatever
damages a court awards up to a $3 million per incident and it would be
paid by the contractor and its insurance company.
Child advocates say DCF and its contractors are trying to dodge
responsibility and are wasting taxpayer money as discussions drag on. In
the end, they say, it leaves abused children with little legal or
financial recourse. The state spent more than $740 million this year on
foster care, employing 21 contractors to oversee between 9,000 and
10,000 foster children.
"It's sad and a complete waste of resources when we see each blame
the other or duck behind technical defenses while the innocent foster
child is suffering and waiting to get help,'' said Howard Talenfeld, a
child advocate and Broward County attorney.
DCF says it's spent millions in legal fees on cases it wasn't
responsible for, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, private contractors argue they should have immunity from
large judgments just like the state does, despite a statute and
contracts that say otherwise. Additionally, providers say they couldn't
afford rising insurance premiums and legal fees brought by an increase
in lawsuits
Florida became the first state to fully privatize its child welfare
programs in 2005, inking multimillion dollar contracts with providers
that DCF says includes the cost of caring for children and enough for
insurance if a foster child is harmed.
The Legislature privatized they system after some high-profile cases
where government workers lied about visiting foster homes, resulting in
the death or disappearance of some children. Backers said privatization
would keep children safer and the Legislature removed a cap on how much
money abused children could receive by pushing the responsibility onto
private insurers.
But providers say that's unfair and DCF Secretary George Sheldon told
the AP he supports giving them sovereign immunity, which could limit
judgments, fearing a multimillion dollar verdict could break them. He
suggested increasing the cap on the insurance contractors are required
to carry and barring judgments over that amount. Any change to the
statute would require legislative action. Providers have shopped an
amendment to various legislators in the past few years, but little has
come of it.
Critics say the state has been lax in enforcing the statute, which
defines the relationship as an outsourcing of state jobs, and shouldn't
pay to defend cases where providers are at fault.
The providers "want to be able to take all this money from taxpayers
and they don't want to be accountable. It's absurd,'' said attorney
Karen Gievers, who is representing the 10-year-old boy who was raped.
She is also suing the organization for negligence in the case of a
foster child, saying its workers ignored signs he was sexually abused
while bouncing between more than 43 foster care placements in roughly 14
years.
Providers should have immunity against large judgments in cases where
they subcontract with other providers, because they are acting on
behalf of the state, just as DCF does when it contracts with them, said
Ed Savitz, general counsel for Hillsborough Kids. The state is paying
Hillsborough Kids nearly $200 million for a three-year contract to
oversee about 2,500 kids.
Attorney Richard Filson says he's encountered the same argument in
nearly every case he's filed against DCF providers, including a lawsuit
against the Sarasota YMCA, claiming it placed a baby with a foster
parent who shook the child to death and another alleging a foster parent
burned a child's chest with an iron.
DCF says it's still named in lawsuits even though local providers
were caring for the child.
"DCF didn't tell them how to behave, we don't micromanage how they
behave but we get sued nevertheless,'' said DCF's general counsel Jerry
Curington.
The agency says it has paid millions of taxpayer dollars to settle
cases where its contractors were at fault, according to a February
letter sent by DCF's general counsel to a contractor. The agency said it
has no system to determine exactly how many millions it has paid out
and says it recoups fees from the providers on rare occasion.
Our Kids, which contracts with DCF to care for kids in Miami-Dade and
Monroe Counties, has seen an increase in the number of lawsuits since
the partnership, CEO Fran Allegra said.
The organization had one lawsuit in 2006, another in 2007 and two
lawsuits in both 2008 and 2009. Defending them is costing providers
statewide millions a year in premiums, she said. Our Kids pays $250,000 a
year in premiums. It receives nearly $500 million from the state for a
five-year contract to serve about 3,300 kids.
For two years, Allegra says the organization has been paying legal
fees in a case where it had no interaction with the child.
Fifteen-year-old Stephanie Dorismond was found dead in a motel room
in 2007. Authorities say a 36-year-old man crushed her skull with a
toilet lid.
The girl was removed from her mother's care after abuse allegations,
placed with an uncle she claimed sexually abused her and then placed
back with her mother. Allegra says her agency was asked to find housing
for the girl and located a spot at a sexual abuse treatment center, but
was later told she was being placed back in her mother's care.
DCF investigated the family several times and an agency report
concluded it should have asked a juvenile judge to oversee the family
and order services and supervision.
DCF says the agency will always pay when liable, but it often takes
lengthy legal proceedings to determine whether DCF or the provider is at
fault.
DCF asked providers to add the agency's name to existing insurance
policies, but they balked at the request, saying it gives the department
the ability to settle cases without regards for their position and
jeopardized their future.
A handful of agencies are refusing to sign the new contract requiring
the addition, despite lengthy negotiations.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Fri May 28, 2010 12:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla -- A free text-messaging
service brings emergency alerts to the palm of your hands.The
Orange County Emergency Management Department encouraged residents to
sign up for OC Alert, a free service
that delivers important text messages to cell phones.The service
is customizable, giving users the option of selecting alerts for severe
weather, evacuations, road closures and Amber Alerts, according to
Orange County Emergency Operations Director Preston Cook."The
beauty of the system is that its free to our residents as long as they
don't have a charge from their service provider for text messages," said
Cook.A similar text messaging program is also available in
Volusia County.Brevard County does not have a free texting
service but offers text-message alerts through a radio-controlled system
if users purchase a radio, according to a spokesman for the county's
EOC.For information on Brevard County's program, click
here or call the Brevard County emergency management office at
321-637-6670.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sat May 29, 2010 11:43 am

Well, it's been more than a year since the suicide death of
7-year-old Gabriel Myers, and what have we learned? What do we know now
to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again? Lest we
forget, on April 16, 2009, little Gabriel hung himself with a shower
hose in the bathroom of his foster home in Margate,
Florida. Gabriel had been the victim of sexual abuse and neglect, which resulted
in him being placed in Florida's foster care system. While in foster
care, he was regularly "medicated" with multiple psychotropic drugs to
deal with his escalating behavioral problems, which were in and of
themselves predictable if anyone was paying attention.In August
2009, the Gabriel Myers Work Group, appointed by DCF Secretary George
Sheldon, issued its first report, confirming what most children's
advocates had known and decried for years, that the state routinely used
mind altering psychotropic drugs, most not tested or approved by the
FDA for pediatric use, to control and manage unruly foster kids rather
than treat their underlying problems. While it was good for some light
to finally be shed on that abhorrent practice, it only exposed half of
the problem.That is until last Friday, when the Gabriel Myers
Work Group issued its second report, confirming another longtime
complaint of children's advocates. The task force found that the state
failed to provide adequate treatment to little Gabriel for the sexual
abuse he had suffered and failed to prevent him from acting out sexually
against other children, something it is common for child victims of
sexual abuse to do. Sadly, little Gabriel was not alone as all
too often the child welfare/foster care system fails to provide child
victims of physical and sexual abuse with adequate treatment, if any at
all. If they did, not only might the victim children recover as fully as
possible to become productive members of society, and other children be
spared the same victimization, but in Gabriel's case, he very likely
would still be alive.The question for us now is what is the state
of Florida going to do about it? Now that the task force has confirmed
what many of us have long complained about and we know what went wrong,
what will DCF do to change its practices so that we don't have
catastrophic failures like this in the future? Kudos to Secretary
Sheldon for appointing the Work Group, and kudos to the Work Group for
exposing the real problems that led little Gabriel to take his own life
at just 7 years old. Darts to lawmakers for not following and
implementing the Work Group's recommendations, and for not passing the
proposed Florida Children's Legal Representation Act endorsed by the
Florida Bar. Sadly, the Florida
Legislature has not yet learned the lessons from Gabriel's death,
which means this tragedy will surely repeat itself. Unacceptable!
Florida's foster children deserve better, and as Floridians we should be
demanding better of our elected and public officials. One child lost is
one too many.

Written by: Brian J. Cabrey; Vice president of Florida's
Children First, a statewide child advocacy group.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:09 pm

People who care for children, the elderly and disabled in Florida
will undergo stricter background screening requirements under a new law
that takes effect Aug. 1.Caregivers will have to pass a
nationwide background check before they can begin working under the law,
which was passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed by Gov.
Charlie Crist last week. It applies to employees of day care
centers, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, and
others working with children and vulnerable adults.The law came
after a Sun Sentinel series exposed flaws and gaps in Florida's
screening system.A six-month investigation by the newspaper found
that convicted felons and career criminals with records for rape, child
abuse and murder had been hired as caregivers. Outdated laws allowed
employees to start working before a background check was made, and
people with criminal histories could still work by obtaining an
exemption stating they were rehabilitated.The state had granted
exemptions to more than 8,700 people with criminal records, including
registered sex offenders and convicted murderers. Twenty percent were
re-arrested, some within days after being deemed rehabilitated and not a
danger to children or vulnerable adults, the Sun Sentinel found.The
new law requires top state officials to approve any exemption and bars
sex offenders and career criminals from ever working as caregivers.George
Sheldon, secretary of the Florida Department of Children &
Families, called the new law a significant step toward protecting
vulnerable residents."The media attention really helped add a
sense of urgency," he said. "One of the biggest things the [Sun
Sentinel] series identified was the numbers of people who were allowed
to work pending the background screening. Particularly with today's
technological advances, there's no rational basis to continue that."
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:28 am

Yidareus has been in foster care most of his life. Twice,
he was selected by a family to be adopted. Twice, the adoption fell
through. He's 13, old enough to understand his story, young
enough to wish for more.


So when it was time for Yidareus to take the portrait that may
lead to his adoption, he smiled broadly, confidently, wishfully.
``I really just want to have a place to go and stay,'' he says softly,
moments after viewing his photograph as part of The Children's Trust
Miami Heart Gallery. ``I have been in foster care since I was four years
old. I just want a home.'' His is the collective wish of of
those pictured in the Miami Heart Gallery, an ambitious project to use
the energy and magnetism of photography as a way to place Miami-Dade
foster care children into adoptive homes. On a rainy Friday
afternoon, a downtown historical museum was transformed into an exhibit
of possibilities, 43 inspired portraits, each capturing the beautiful
spirit of children who need unconditional love. ``These are our
most vulnerable children, the ones that traditionally are the hardest
to place because they are older or part of a sibling group, or have a
physical or developmental disability,'' says Emily Cardenas, senior
communications manager for The Children's Trust, which spearheads the
initiative. ``We want people to come in, connect with the pictures and
decide to adopt.'' The exhibit, shot by about three dozen
photographers committed to capturing expressions and moments, travels to
public spaces -- museums, libraries, performing art centers --
throughout Miami-Dade for a year to reach as many potential parents as
possible. Last year, the show was installed at The Freedom
Tower, Dadeland Mall and the Joseph Caleb Center. And the 2008 gallery
is a permanent exhibit in the Miami International Airport. The
power of photography and an elegant setting works: Of the 123 children
showcased since the Heart Gallery launched three years ago, 56 have been
adopted or are in the process, which can take up to one year.
``When I took the pictures, I wanted to capture theirs eyes because they
tell you so much about a child,'' said celebrity photographer Johnny
Nuñez, whose portfolio includes portraits of Nelson Mandela and Jennifer
Lopez. ``I wanted to capture the innocence.'' Nuñez, who grew
up in New York, was a foster care child was adopted by a Puerto Rican
family. ``I understand where these kids are. They are hopeful
and scared. They want a family, they want someone to love them and give
them a home,'' he said. Roger and Deborah Riquelme did just
that. The Kendall couple saw Aundre, then 10, in the first Heart
Gallery. They were drawn to his portrait but were told he was already
matched with another family. That adoption fell through and Aundre's
picture was exhibited again in 2009. ``As soon as I saw him, I
called the agency,'' said Deborah Riquelme, a nursing instructor at the
University of Miami. The adoption was finalized in March. ``He is a good kid,'' she said. ``This was a good decision.''
Other parents found their children on the gallery's website, which
features the children's portraits and biographies. ``We had a
couple that wanted to adopt for a while. They just hadn't found a match
where they lived in Alabama so they started searching Heart Galleries
online,'' Cardenas said. ``They saw a brother and sister online and knew
they were the one.'' The couple saw the photographs of Tajah,
7, and her brother, Cameron, 8, hugging on the grounds of Vizcaya Museum
and Gardens, one of the 43 portraits featured in the 2009 gallery. By
the fall, the children were traveling to Alabama to stay with the couple
and by Christmas were on a plane headed to their new home.
Based on a national model, the Miami Heart Gallery is one of 125 in 48
states. The first gallery opened nine years ago in Sante Fe as a way for
a state child welfare agency to generate interest in adoptions.
In 2007, the Heart Gallery of Broward County launched with the
portraits of 73 children. The gallery showcased 98 children in 2009 --
39 have been adopted or placed in a home as part of the adoption
process. The 2010 gallery includes 88 children and is at the Northwest
Regional Library in Coral Springs throughout the month. In July, it
travels to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie.
This year's Miami exhibit features children ages 1 to 17 and eight
sibling groups. Jessand, 12, wants to be firefighter. Darrell,
17, plans on becoming a journalist. There's a future lawyer in
Quisqueya, 14. Kassandra, 13, has a pet Chihuahua named Tinkerbell.
Amethyst, 15, loves romance novels. All are without permanent
homes. For information about adopting a foster child, call
The Children's Trust Helpline at 211 or visit
www.miamiheartgallery.org
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Missing Children's Day is Monday in Florida

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:31 am

Tallahassee will host Florida's twelfth annual Missing Children's Day on Monday.The event is led by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse Advisory Board.The formal ceremony will take place on the courtyard between the Old Capitol and new Capitol at 10 a.m. A child safety fair will begin at 9 a.m. in the plaza area of the Capitol. Children will have the opportunity to be fingerprinted, photographed, and receive child safety literature. The public is invited to attend.

During the weekend leading up to the event, advertisers with the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA) will be donating digital billboard space throughout the state to feature children and adults from Florida that are still missing. Lamar, Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS outdoor are participating. The artwork will feature 25 missing children and adults. The billboards will run beginning today through Monday.There are seven billboards in Lee County that will feature four of the missing.

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement appreciates our outdoor advertisers for partnering with us once again to broadcast the photos of missing children and adults,” said Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “It is our hope that someone, somewhere in our state will recognize one of these faces and provide us with information that will reunite them with their families.”

The following children and adults will be featured on billboards: • Danielle Bell, missing from Pensacola since Sept. 28, 2001
• Tavia Bailey, missing from Pensacola since Jan. 24, 1986
• Preston Mills, missing from Pensacola since June 25, 2010
• Ali Gilmore, missing from Tallahassee since Feb. 2, 2006
• David Jackson, missing from Tallahassee since Oct. 28, 2008
• Portesha Morris, missing from Monticello since April 16, 2001
• Tiffany Sessions, missing from Gainesville since Feb. 9, 1989
• Shirlene Roberts, missing from Jacksonville since Sept. 9, 2009
• Mark Gibson, missing from Jacksonville since March 12, 2008
• Mark Degner, missing from Jacksonville since Feb. 10, 2005
• Bryan Hayes, missing from Jacksonville since Feb. 10, 2005
• Zachary Bernhardt, missing from Clearwater since Sept. 11, 2000
• Ronkeya Holes and Masaraha Ross, missing from Haines City since Oct. 18, 2009
• Jennifer Kesse, missing from Orlando since Jan. 24, 2006
• Phillip Desir, missing from Palm Bay since Feb. 7, 2009
• Desiree Wilson, missing from Orlando since Jan. 16, 2010
• Navisha Maddox, missing from Orlando since April 15, 2008
• Jacqueline Hernandez, missing from Clermont since Dec. 22, 2007
• Teresa Alfonso, missing from Marathon since Sept. 3, 1974
• Lucely Aramburo, missing from Kendall since June 1, 2007
• Deelee Bohler, missing from Miami since Nov. 2, 2005
• Gayle Moran, missing from Lake Placid since July 30, 2009
• Danny Mordenti, missing from Punta Gorda since May 22, 2008
• Alexander Erb-Sanchez, missing from Ellenton since Nov. 4, 2008

Florida Missing Children’s Day is held each year to recognize past and present missing children and their families, to educate citizens on safety awareness, and to honor individuals in our state who have made a difference in the life of a child. Families of missing persons will travel to Tallahassee to attend the ceremony and honor the memory of their loved one.

During the formal ceremony, awards will be given to individuals in the following categories: Law Enforcement Task Force/Team of the Year, Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Jimmy Ryce Trailing Team of the Year, School Bus Operator of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Commissioner's Award, John and Reve Walsh Award, Evelyn Williams Memorial Award, Statewide Fifth Grade Essay Contest Winner; and DOJ Poster Contest Recognition.
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Group trains to help with searches involving missing kids

Post by twinkletoes on Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:48 pm

Group trains to help with searches involving missing kids

Posted: Oct 11, 2010 6:01PM EDT
Gallery


Group trains to help with searches involving missing kids
1:4

Group trains to help with searches involving missing kids

LEE COUNTY: More than 41,000 incidents of missing children were reported to law enforcement in Florida in 2009. Those on the front lines working to find an abducted child train year round and we followed as the Fort Myers Child Abduction Response Team held a mock search.

CART is a multi-agency team comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies designed to immediately mobilize and provide investigative resources to the lead investigative agency when a child is abducted.

The Fort Myers team is comprised of 43 highly trained local, state and federal agencies from Collier, Charlotte, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, Desoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

CART has assisted in high-profile cases in Southwest Florida - including the disappearance of Baby Bryan and Adji Desir. Both children vanished and right now they, along with 300 other children from Florida, are considered missing.For law enforcement, searching for an abducted child is a race against the clock. Statistics show that 44 percent of abducted children are killed within the first hour.

"Time is really of the essence. We need to mobilize as quickly as possible," said Captain Lisa Barnes with the Cape Coral Police Department. CART detectives, dive team, search dogs and volunteers spent Monday training, interviewing and searching for clues."By doing this today, it reinforces our skills. We're making sure we're at the top of our game," said Barnes.Barnes says it's not only law enforcement that has to be aware when someone goes missing, but the public as well. All too often, someone sees something but says nothing.

"That one tip might be what we need to successfully bring that child home," said Barnes.For parents, it's impossible to have a 24-hour watch on your kids but you can do things now in case the worst happens later.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends parents do three things:

  1. Get an ID card made with your child's name and information. Keep that with you at all times.
  2. Try to get DNA, a few strands of hair and put it in a Ziploc bag you can keep somewhere at home.
  3. Get your child fingerprinted. If a child is abducted and has a set of prints on record, the information can be sent to law enforcement across the country in a matter of minutes.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by twinkletoes on Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:01 am

Training session held for local Child Abduction Response Team
Article Photos

MICHAEL PISTELLA
John Snow, left, a Florida Wildlife Commission officer, and Brad Rouskey, a probation officer with the Florida Department of Corrections, question Athena Gonzalez of Rasmussen College during the neighborhood canvas section of Child Abduction Response Team training Monday.


An Amber Alert goes out: A young girl has gone missing from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers where she was attending a ballgame with her father.

The local Child Abduction Response Team, or CART, responds to the scene.

CART is a multi-agency team comprised of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that is designed to mobilize immediately and provide investigative resources to a lead agency when a child is abducted, according to officials. CART serves as a force multiplier with a preplanned response.

The Fort Myers team consists of 43 agencies from 10 counties, including Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry. On Monday, representatives from nearly all of the agencies met at the stadium for the mock abduction to hone their skills. In total, 117 officers and more than 50 volunteers participated.

"Training is the best way to make sure we're ready," said Capt. Lisa Barnes of the Cape Coral Police Department.

According to Barnes, the exercise gives the agencies an opportunity to go through the process, work out any problems and review the paperwork that goes along with a child abduction investigation and how to properly fill it out.

"It's to make sure that everybody's on the same page," Barnes said.At the stadium, the officers were divided up into 57 groups and each was assigned a task. Some conducted search and rescue using K-9s and the grid, and others canvassed the girl's "neighborhood" and nearby "businesses" - vehicles parked outside the stadium with mock addresses posted on paper.

Some of the groups met with the girl's family and gathered information about the child, and some followed up on "leads" that were called in by the public through a special program.There were even teams that checked on real, registered sexual offenders in the region and conducted interviews.

"We will perform as we are trained," said Special Agent Supervisor Tammy Roane of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "If we train for real life, we will perform that way.

"Cape Det. John Howes spent the day canvassing homes and businesses. He said 40 "calls" generated from the Amber Alert produced 32 "leads," and out of those leads only about 10 provided enough information for a capture.

"We found the girl alive and captured the suspect," he said.

Through questioning and "tips," the officers learned from "witnesses" - local college students serving as volunteers - that a man was seen holding a girl's hand and dragging her through the ballpark's parking lot. They traced the vehicle and tag to a home and found the missing girl yelling in a shed.

Howes said the "mock" abductor turned out to be a ballpark employee.

"I thought it was very realistic," he said. "It's something that could happen at any time.

"According to Roane, statistics show that the longer a child is missing, the less likely it is that the child will be found safely. She said Monday's exercise did two things: allowed the agencies to work on their mobilization time and enabled them to work together, improving communication and cutting time.

"It's important that we all learned to work with one another smoothly," she said. "In a child abduction investigation, time is a critical factor."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 797,500 children younger than 18 reported missing in a one-year period of time - an average of 2,185 children each day. Of those, 203,900 were the victims of family abductions and 58,200 were the victims of non-family abductions.

One hundred and fifteen were the victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child at least 50 miles, kills the child, demands ransom or plans to keep the child permanently.
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by twinkletoes on Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:53 am

Volunteer to help Bay area abused and neglected kids
4 hrs ago

Tampa, Florida -

There's a massive call for volunteers in the Tampa Bay area. Saturday morning, a march was held in Downtown Tampa at the Curtix Hixon Park to draw attention to the need.
Organizers dedicated the march to who they're calling "The Forgotten Children" of Hillsborough County. People carried cardboard cut out images of children to represent the 800 kids who've been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.

The children need a guardian ad litem who's a friend and someone who will be their voice and stand up for them in court.Charlie Nelson is the Interim Executive Director for Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem program and says, "We can teach anyone how to work with an abused and neglected child. The important point is to have the passion that says I'm going to be the person that steps up for that child to make sure they get what they need in the system."

Organizers say there are more than 2,500 children in foster care right now and only 1,700 of them have a guardian ad litem.

Click here for more information on how to become a volunteer.


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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by twinkletoes on Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:02 am

Tampa isn't the only city in Florida in need of Guardian ad litem volunteers, they are needed statewide.

I suspect all other states have the same need.

Don't just blog about child abuse. Volunteer if you can possibly fit the time into your schedule.

It is easier for retired people to do this. That is a benefit to children. Grandmothers and grandfathers have the wisdom only experience can bring.

Abused and neglected children, also unloved children, become adults and the abuse perpetrates itself. Sort of like an inherited trait.

Please consider this worthwhile service. You will be richly rewarded.
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No Child-abuse Prevention Funds for Florida

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:19 pm

On Thursday, Florida lawmakers rejected federal child-abuse
prevention funds that were tied to the health care law. The funding
totaled more than $50 million.
Many lawmakers oppose the health care reform package on philosophical grounds.The funding offered under the Affordable Health Care Act would paid
for a visiting nurse program run by Healthy Families Florida, which is
one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation.
Unfortunately, Healthy Families’s budget has been reduced by $10
million last year.
Additionally, since federal Race to the Top educational-reform
efforts are tied to the child-abuse prevention program, then Healthy
Families may face losing a four-year block grant worth an additional
$100 million in federal funds.
Healthy Families started in 1998 with a budget of $10 million. This
program would provide trained home visitors to work with young parents,
who based off their responses to a questionnaire, were at risk for
abusing or neglecting their children. These trained visitors would
offer guidance from healthy eating habits to early childhood development
to recognizing safety hazards. Many of the trained visitors were
nurses and served as resources for these parents.

Healthy Families is a particularly effective program with its
hands-on visitations and concrete parent advice on how to care for their
children. As a result, the program is saving states million of dollars
in the future from costs associated with foster care, delinquency, and
health care.
Read more: http://www.thestatecolumn.com/health/no-child-abuse-prevention-funds-for-florida/#ixzz1T2JiInaI
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by twinkletoes on Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:17 pm

Child abuse, neglect deaths in Lee County on the rise

The trend runs contrary to figures in Southwest Florida and throughout the state.

9:36 PM, Jan. 15, 2012.



After mopping the floors one morning just over a year ago, a Hendry County mother of five left the bucket of water in the garage, out of reach of her 1-year-old daughter. When the older children came home from school, she asked her 8-year-old to watch the baby as she cleaned.

Maybe 10 minutes later, she checked in. The toddler was gone and the garage door was open.
She peered in the garage and saw her daughter’s feet sticking out of the bucket.

Paloma Palacios-Herrera drowned Dec. 11, 2010. The account from state records was one of 10 child death cases caused by abuse or neglect in Southwest Florida in 2010. The deaths were analyzed as part of an annual Child Abuse Death Review sent to lawmakers last week. The report runs a year behind because of the time it takes the state to investigate the deaths.
Across the state, the number of child abuse deaths dropped 23 percent from 200 children in 2009 to 155 children in 2010, the report found. The number of such deaths in Lee County jumped from two to eight children in that time period while the number throughout five Southwest Florida counties decreased from 12 to 10 children.

But Connie Shingledecker, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office major who chaired the death review committee, said that doesn’t mean fewer child abuse deaths occurred in 2010.

“We did not receive nearly as many of the unsafe-sleeping related cases,” Shingledecker said. “It may be more investigative-driven if we’re not recognizing and investigating them as such.”

Shingledecker said unsafe sleeping deaths, such as when a baby suffocates while sleeping with a caregiver or in a crib with bulky bedding, can be mislabeled as sudden infant death syndrome if officers don’t thoroughly investigate using doll reenactments as recommended by the federal government.

“In some areas, they recognize the importance of that, but it’s just not completely embraced by all law enforcement agencies,” Shingledecker said.

The report also noted a decline in all child deaths in Florida and a drop in the state’s child population as potential factors.

Of the eight cases reviewed in Lee in 2010, most children died because of abuse instead of neglect: A 1-year-old was shot by his father, three babies died from blunt force trauma and a 6-week-old died after his throat was slit, records show.

Economic effect


Economic stress could be playing a role in the upward swing of more violent abuse cases, a trend that continues, said Jill Turner, CEO of Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, a crisis center for abused children. Infants and toddlers are vulnerable targets.

“The injuries are often more severe with really young children because people don’t know how easy it is to break a bone or to lacerate a liver,” she said. “Then, they get scared and are much less likely to
take the child in for care.”

There were no outward signs of abuse when Shy’ana Blackmore, a Lee County 2-month-old, died in January 2010, but an autopsy revealed skull fractures and a lacerated liver, state records show. Her father, Miklos Blackmore, then around 24, was arrested seven months later and is facing a murder charge; a trial is set for later this month.

In 2011, there were five child abuse and neglect deaths in Southwest Florida, although there are several being investigated, according to state Department of Children and Families data. The deaths were not included in the review.

But Mike Carroll, who leads the DCF region that includes Southwest Florida, pointed to commonalities in the 15 cases in the five area counties in the last two years: young children and young parents. None of the children who died were older than 2. Several could have been prevented, he said.

None of the families had open DCF investigations and most did not have any prior ones, said Carroll, noting the need for community involvement.

With this young population of parents, it’s hard to reach them especially if we don’t know them,” he said. “The child ends up paying for the parent’s mistake with their life.”


http://www.news-press.com/article/20120116/SS08/301160015/Child-abuse-neglect-deaths-Lee-County-rise?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Home
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:26 pm

The
Florida legislature on Thursday passed and sent to the governor a law
intended to protect missing children that was prompted by the death of
two-year-old Caylee Anthony and the acquittal of her mother, Casey, of
murder charges.

The Florida state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the measure that
would make it a third degree felony to give false information to a law
enforcement officer about a missing child.

The bill, dubbed "Caylee's law," already had passed the state House of
Representatives and now will go to Governor Rick Scott for his
signature.

The proposal responded to public outrage after Casey Anthony was found
not guilty of murder last year in a trial that received saturation media
coverage and was followed by millions of Americans.

Anthony was charged with four counts of lying to police about Caylee and
was sentenced to four years in prison, the maximum sentence for lying
to police, which was a first degree misdemeanor. She was released last
summer after time served.

Caylee went missing in 2008 and prosecutors said she was dead for a
month before Casey Anthony told anyone. Prosecutors said Casey Anthony
repeatedly lied to authorities about her daughter.

Had the bill been in effect, she could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for lying to police.





http://www.myvictoriaonline.com/pages/12501128.php?contentType=4&contentId=10155540
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Re: FLORIDA News

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:01 pm

Today, the Florida Legislature
passed the nation’s most expansive and hard-hitting mandatory abuse
reporting bill to prevent the kind of cover-ups that produced national
scandals at Penn State and Syracuse.

The bill, Florida HB 1355,
“Protection of Vulnerable Persons,” imposes a fine of up to $1 million
each time any public or private Florida college or university whose
administration or law enforcement agency willfully and knowingly fails
to report child abuse that occurs on its campus, in any of its
facilities, or at/during college or university-sponsored events and
functions. This makes Florida the first state in the nation to better
protect children from institutional cover-ups of child sexual abuse,
brought to light by the Penn State scandal.

“The bill ensures that the
protection of a child is treated as a greater priority than the
reputation of an institution,” said Lauren Book, CEO of the Lauren’s
Kids foundation, survivor of child sexual abuse and architect of the
bill. “It sets a national standard in affirming that child abuse
reporting is everyone’s responsibility.”

The bill also:
· Closes a loophole in the law to require that
the Florida Child Abuse Hotline accepts reports regardless of who
commits the abuse, even if the alleged abuser is not a direct caregiver.
This provision makes Florida one of the only true, fully mandatory
reporting states. No other state will have a stronger reporting law than
Florida.
· Provides $1.5 million in relocation assistance for victims of sexual abuse.

“For 11 straight years the Florida Legislature has
taken up legislation including things like mandatory HIV testing and
full elimination of the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse
victims in an effort to make certain that the children of Florida are
well-protected,” said Ron Book, Florida lobbyist and father of Lauren
Book. “President Haridopolos, Speaker Cannon and bill sponsors,
Representative Dorworth and Senator Benacquisto continue to make certain
through their leadership that we say what we mean and mean what we say.
In this bill there is $4.1 million in funds to make sure that there are
adequate personnel as a result of closing the loophole.”

Lauren Book also applauded the passage of HB 7049,
which increases criminal penalties on sex traffickers.
“There is a large, sick sub-culture that exploits
children for sex, and, as a society, we are not outraged enough to stop
it,” said Lauren Book. “This bill is the beginning of a radical change
in law to impose extreme penalties on people who buy sexual services
from children.”

http://www.wctv.tv/news/headlines/Florida_Passes_Expansive_Mandatory_Abuse_Reporting_Bill_141974973.html?ref=973


The bills will now go through the process on their way to Florida Governor Rick Scott for signature.
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Gov. Rick Scott signs Florida missing children legislation inspired by Caylee Anthony’s death

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:53 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill inspired by 2-year-old Caylee Anthony’s death.

The law increases the maximum penalty from a year in jail to five
years in prison for knowingly making a false statement to police about a
missing child.
Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, was acquitted last
year of murdering her daughter but convicted on four counts of lying to
investigators.
Caylee wasn’t reported missing until 31 days after she vanished in 2008 in Orlando.
Casey Anthony completed her four-year maximum sentence while awaiting trial on the murder charge.
She could have gotten up to 20 years in prison if the bill had been in effect at that time.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/gov-rick-scott-signs-florida-missing-children-legislation-inspired-by-caylee-anthonys-death/2012/04/06/gIQA2phY0S_print.html
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Re: FLORIDA News

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