What is the Jimmy Ryce ACT?
On May 1, 1998, the Florida Legislature passed the Jimmy Ryce Act. Rather than releasing an inmate from prison after serving the court ordered sentence, this Act allows the government to place an inmate in a civil commitment facility for an indefinite amount of time, potentially for the rest of their life if that inmate has been determined to be a sexually violent predator.
What is a Sexually Violent Predator?
A sexually violent predator is any person who:
- Has been convicted of a sexually violent offense; and
- Suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for a long-term control, care, and treatment
How does the process work?
The act requires the Children and Family Services to create a multidisciplinary team consisting of either two licensed psychologists or psychiatrists, or one licensed psychiatrist and one licensed psychologist who will determine whether an inmate is a sexually violent predator.
If the multidisciplinary team recommends commitment (i.e. that the should be labeled a sexually violent predator), the State Attorney's Office may file a petition requesting the inmate commitment. According to the Jimmy Ryce Act, if a judge determines probable cause exists to believe the inmate is a sexually violent predator, the inmate will remain in custody in a secure facility until the court or jury (by unanimous decision) determines by clear and convincing evidence whether the inmate is a sexually violent predator.
How long will the inmate be detained?
Once classified as a sexually violent predator, under the Jimmy Ryce Act , the inmate is committed to the care of the Department of Children and Family Services for an indefinite period of time. Inmates will be examined at least once a year to determine "whether probable cause exists to believe that the person's condition has so changed that it is safe for the person to be at large and that the person will not engage in acts of sexual violence if discharged." In other words, there is maximum amount of time that the inmate can be detained. While an inmate can petition the courts for release at any time, theoretically, under the Jimmy Ryce Act, an inmate can be civilly detained until they die.