Featured on the latest cover of Newsweek, Lauren’s Kids has spent years protecting childhood by educating adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curriculum, awareness campaigns and speaking worldwide. Lauren Book’s advocacy has highlighted the need for change in Florida laws to better protect children and victims of sexual assault and to increase penalties for abusers.
It’s late March when Lauren Book and I head into the bowels of the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC), armed with loose-leaf paper, pencils and the knowledge that we are about to sit face to face with three of the most dangerous sexually violent predators in the state. “This is the most manipulative crowd on the planet,” says Kristin Kanner, director of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Sexually Violent Predator Program. And one of the men we’re seeing today has been sending Book and her father angry letters for the past few years.
The FCCC is surrounded by seemingly endless stretches of sugar fields, cow pastures and orange groves. Wrapped in 12-foot barbed wire fences and guarded with more than 200 cameras, it is where Florida keeps 640 of its worst sexually violent offenders. About half have committed crimes against just children, a third against just adults.