updated 4/21/2005 5:03:14 PM ET 2005-04-21T21:03:14

In the span of a month, two girls have been kidnapped and brutally murdered by registered sex offenders in Florida.  More than 50,000 registered offenders roam free all over America, with police unaware of their whereabouts.

Why aren't we keeping closer tabs on predators in America?  Plus, why are lawmakers so slow to act?    MSNBC-TV's Joe Scarborough asks those questions and many more to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt.

SCARBOROUGH: Why is it — it seems to me, it seems to me, with this happening time and time, not only Florida, but across America, that we should do more.  We should be able to track these nuts, these bums for the rest of their lives.  And we shouldn‘t give them a second, a third, a fourth chance to go out there, rape, kill, and bury these girls. 

CRIST:  Joe, there‘s no question about it.  You are absolutely right. 

And I know, when you served in the Congress, that‘s the kind of stuff that you stood for.  I think it‘s real important that Florida get on track quickly.  And I know that it‘s going to happen in the next couple of weeks of the legislative session that we are in right now.  It‘s very important that we track these people, more importantly, that we not only track them, but we incarcerate them, we put them behind bars. 

It‘s a good idea, I think, to have electronic monitoring, the GPS stuff that allows law enforcement to know exactly where these people are 24/7. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why can‘t we do that?  How much does that cost, Mr. Attorney General?  How much would it cost us?  And how do these devices work?  Because I would like every one of these people, once they molest a child, to have to wear these things for the rest of their life.  Is this unrealistic? 

CRIST:  I don‘t think it‘s unrealistic at all.  The first duty of government, as you know, Joe, and in the first line of the Constitution, it talks about ensuring domestic tranquility.  The founding fathers got it. 

That‘s what we need to learn from.  We need to make sure that the very first thing we do is protect the people of our state, especially the children of Florida.  And I think that‘s what the legislature is going to do.  But the tracking devices, they estimate about $8 million a year.  To make sure we lock them up and keep them locked up, so they don‘t even have to track them around the state, it would be about $56 million out of a $64 billion budget.  I think that‘s the responsible thing to do.  It‘s the right thing to do.  Hopefully, that will be done before this session ends in about two and a half weeks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Clint Van Zandt, I understand that, if we wanted to track every sexual predator in America, we could do it for about $3 billion.  That‘s about the amount of money that is being spent this year on drought relief in the Homeland Security Act.  Why don‘t politicians in Washington get it?  Why don‘t they pass this legislation?  Because this is a federal issue, isn‘t it? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, first of all, Joe, I don‘t want to track these guys.  I want to know where they are at 24 hours a day.  And that‘s in cell 125, 126. 
You know, the Department of Justice will tell you that the average, if you can live with that term, the average child molester will molest 380 times in his lifetime.  These numbers are just astronomical, 4,600 children kidnapped every year by child predators, a child kidnapped, sexually assaulted, murdered, statistically, every other day in the United States. 

I don‘t want these guys to have Martha Stewart jewelry on.  I want them locked up, and I don‘t want them ever to have a chance to offend.  The challenge then comes, am I ready to sign the check on my taxes to keep these guys put away?  And, at least in my case, children and grandchildren, I will sign the check. 

SCARBOROUGH: You are darn right.  I will do whatever. 

Charlie Crist, how do these tracking devices work?  I agree with Clint.  I think, once you molest a little child, you should go to jail for life.  I‘m sorry.  That‘s the way I feel.  Maybe it‘s because I have three kids.  At the same time, we are not even tracking all of them.  How does it work?  Do you have a tracking device with you? 

CRIST:  I do.  I brought one with me.  This is what they look like.

It‘s not a real complicated piece of machinery, but it is a good way to track people.  But I would agree with you guys.  And I don‘t think you should be sorry, Joe.  The right thing to do is to make sure that we lock them up, we throw away the key, we protect our people.  It‘s the first thing and the most important thing the government does on the national level, from a national security point of view, and here at the state level, to make sure that we ensure domestic tranquility within the borders of Florida. 

It‘s what we need to be about.  It‘s what the people deserve.  They have already written the tax check.  Their money is already here in Tallahassee.  We just need to prioritize how we spend it.  I mean, really, think about it.  What park is more important?  What road project is more significant?  What sewer renewal system is more important than protecting the people and the children of Florida? 

I don‘t think anything is more important than that.  And I think the legislature would agree.  And that‘s why I am hopefully optimistic that they will do that before this session ends.  I believe that they will. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Clint, you know, I have been saying some time on this show — and we are going to keep pushing it.


SCARBOROUGH:  And I know you probably agree with this.  What we need is a national database that is readily accessible for parents all across America, for grandparents all across America. 


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s there, but, unfortunately, law enforcement officers can look at it, but we as American citizens don‘t have a national database.  Why won‘t they do it?  How much would that cost? 

VAN ZANDT: Some things, we can get into, Joe, and some things, we can‘t. 
Almost every state, if not all of them, have some type of database where you can go online, search a name and search an address.  I live in Virginia.  I have looked at my community.  And, you know, it‘s amazing how many predators that are identified that are out in the streets.
But I will tell you what.  These bracelets, Joe, it just — this is a politically correct fix that people talk about.  That assumes that someone who has molested, who has assaulted, who has committed sexual offenses, all of a sudden, in his life, Joe, is going to say, hey, I am going to be a good offender.  Put that bracelet on me.  Well, what if he cuts it off?  What if he offends anyway? 

The state of California tells us they have 33,000 offenders, and they don‘t know where they are.  What are those numbers like in the United States?  Bracelets aren‘t enough.  Steel bars or a scarlet letter “P” for predator needs to be on their forehead.  

Scarborough Country airs weeknights, 10 p.m. ET.  E-mail Joe at JScarborough@msnbc.com.


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