Lake Monroe, FL— September 25, 2013.
Port Orange to Vote on Sex Predator Signs Today.
The city of Port Orange is scheduled to take on the topic of signs posted in the yards of registered sexual predators at a meeting this evening. This comes after the city recently increased their residency restrictions to 2,000 feet from a school, park or other place where children congregate. While these ordinances have proven to be politically popular, they have also proven to be completely ineffective.
This week, the Fort Meyers News Press is featuring a series on a group of homeless men living in the woods because, as registered sex offenders, they are unable to find housing. The lead editorial, entitled; “This ‘answer’ for sex offenders is not right” features a group of registrants living homeless in the woods because residency restrictions have left them with no other available options.
Whether signs in predators yards or driving registrants to homelessness, studies have repeatedly shown that these types of punishments do nothing to enhance public safety. In fact, stress and housing instability are triggers for reoffense.
In Port Orange, there are four predators ranging in age from 57 to 73. The 73 year old had committed his offense in 1995, eighteen years ago, and has had no subsequent re-offense. He’s lived peacefully in the same home for the last thirteen years. A sign will only promote vigilantism. It will also promote a false sense of security, because while parents are focusing on these four individuals, they are ignoring the fact that 95% of offenses are committed by first time offenders.
In Fort Meyers, 12 offenders have been shuffled around from spot to spot simply to remain compliant with the law. Although the City recognizes the growing encampment is “not the right answer” and treatment professionals and researchers consistently found that residency restrictions are actually counter-productive, cities continue to pass them. Miami-Dade now has almost one hundred twenty homeless registrants living along the railroad tracks at NW 71st Street and 34th Court. They have been there for months after residency restrictions displaced them from the trailer parks they were living in.
As the News Press editorial concluded, “Sex crimes are not going to end. Offenders will find themselves on the streets after prison, they will be advertised as scum through a registry or a sign in front of their homes, if they can find one. The registry offers us a chance to know where they are, but is that the end of it? We believe law enforcement and public officials must address this issue soon, or we may find ourselves dealing with a much larger homeless problem.”