Every morning I scan the news for headlines containing certain keywords, so I can report any relevant updates to our membership. Among the results today, I find the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office’s publication of a sexual predator moving into Boynton Beach, as published in a local newspaper’s website. To avoid bringing further unwanted attention to the individual, I won’t link to the story, but when I check the flyer I see that the man is 98 years old and the “new address” is a nursing home. His offense pre-dates the existence of the registry.
I question the utility of making this announcement. The guy is 98 years old and in a nursing facility. I can see possibly notifying the facility, but why publish it online for the world to see? Even if he ever was, he is no danger to anyone now. The only thing that can come of it, possibly, is the attention will cause issues for the nursing home and he’ll get kicked out with nowhere to go; a problem facing many aging registrants.
Separately, I got an email this morning from a caregiver of another elderly person on the registry. The man is physically handicapped and wheelchair bound because of a stroke. He needs assistance to move and is sometimes lucid and sometimes incoherent. The burden of remembering his quarterly registration obligations has fallen on the caregiver, the hardship of physically getting him to the sheriff’s office has fallen on the caregiver, and now that Clay county is charging $25 an update, the cost of registration has fallen on the caregiver. She asked if anything can be done.
Sadly, there is nothing that can be done. When Florida made their registry lifetime they made no accommodations in the statute for elderly, physically or mentally ill registrants. They impose the same requirements and obligations on all people. Registrants, as with all people, age. They face limitations and challenges. Often the burden of registration is put on their caregiver, or sometimes the registrant is a caregiver for their spouse and because of residency restrictions, they can’t move to a retirement home to take care of the loved one. In either case, it’s the caregiver that’s punished, not the registrant.
We need to call on the legislators to introduce a bill that will offer relief in these situations.