The Ryces created the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a nonprofit organization based in Vero Beach that works to increase public awareness and education about sexual predators. It also provides counseling for parents of victims and helps train law enforcement agencies in ways to respond to missing children cases.
The organization has also provided, free of charge, more than 400 bloodhounds to police departments around the country and abroad. Ryce said if police searching for Jimmy had bloodhounds they might have found him in time.
The Ryces also helped persuade then-President Bill Clinton to sign an executive order allowing missing-child flyers to be posted in federal buildings, which they had been prevented from doing for their own son.
Another accomplishment was 1998 passage in Florida of the Jimmy Ryce Act, versions of which have also been adopted in other states. Under the law, sexual predators found to be still highly dangerous can be detained through civil commitment even after they have served their prison sentences. Such people must prove they have been rehabilitated before they can be released. Chavez had no criminal record, so the law would not have affected him.
The Florida Supreme Court refused Wednesday morning to stay the execution to allow Chavez time to pursue appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit hours later. The appeals prompted a more than two-hour delay in Chavez's scheduled execution.
Associated Press writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.
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