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Law named for slain child necessary to monitor probation

The parents of Carlie Brucia, the abducted and killed sixth grader from Sarasota, along with U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris introduced a proposal Tuesday to pass a new bill called “Carlie’s Law.” The proposed bill, which would extend reasons for putting an already-convicted criminal on probation or parole back in prison, should have been created and proposed long ago. With Florida’s already-useful Amber Alert system aiding the recovery of abducted children, Carlie’s Law should help keep the need for Amber Alert usage to a minimum.

According to the Bureau of Justice, at the end of 2002 there were approximately 4 million people on probation and 753,100 on parole. This is the amount of people convicted of crimes — ranging from misdemeanors to felonies — released into the outside world. The newly proposed Carlie’s Law will detail more offenses for in which ex-convicts would be sent back to prison.

Joseph Smith, 38, was on probation under the Florida Department of Corrections when, on Feb. 1, he allegedly abducted and killed Carlie. Now Smith faces first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping charges in connection with her death, and if convicted, prosecutors will likely seek the death penalty. Smith’s probation officer had reported him in violation of his probation at the time of the kidnapping. The judge claimed there was not enough evidence to jail him.

The Tampa Tribune reported that federal probationers only face mandatory revocation of probation for gun or drug possession or refusing to submit to a drug test. If this new bill passes, it would add violent felonies and sex crimes to this list. The Tribune also stated that Carlie’s Law would call for $20 million in grants for the federal Amber Alert Program.

“The Amber Plan” was named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a Texas girl who was abducted and brutally murdered in 1996. Amber Alerts provide the public with immediate electronic notifications about abduction cases through media outlets as soon as they are confirmed by law enforcement.

If Carlie’s Law is passed and put into effect, convicted criminals on probation or parole will be bound to more rules and regulations in order to keep their freedom. This bill, if passed, will aid law enforcement in moving more quickly, thus reducing the number of child abduction cases that occur in the United States each year.