On September 11, the Crestview City Council voted unanimously to approve a draft of a sex offender ordinance that would change the residency restrictions from the state’s 1000 feet to 1500 feet within the city of Crestview, Florida.
This ordinance includes school bus stops, schools, parks, playgrounds, child care facilities, and community centers.
The second and final reading will be on September 25 at 6 pm.
There has been no mention of registrants committing sex crimes after moving to Crestview.
Collin Bestor with the Northwest Florida Daily News stated: “According to Council Member Ryan Bullard, this would effectively end new sexual offenders from living within city limits.”
Comments made by Bullard at the September 11 meeting (2:15-4:30): “While we can’t boot those 88 (registrants) out, nor do we want to, well, like we do, but okay. It will prevent any more from living documented (registered) in the city. So, what we are going to do is criminalize them from living in the city which is a great thing to do. Basically, the entire city. If I can prevent just one sex offender from moving into the city, and we can dwindle those numbers and have the chief’s people go after them, I am pretty much for it.”
If the registrant is renting and lives within the banishment zone, then he/she will have to find a new location to live.
PLEASE Do the Following:
Contact the Crestview City Council Members and Mayor letting them know that you OPPOSE this ordinance that would expand the residency restrictions to 1500 feet.
Ask family members and friends to contact the council members to OPPOSE this ordinance.
Try to personalize your communications.
Finally, continue to be courteous in your communications with policy makers as they are more likely to listen to us if they do not feel under attack.
Why is Crestview considering this proposed ordinance when there has not been a problem with people on the registry committing new sex offenses? Even the police chief has not mentioned a problem with new sex offenses.
Florida Statute 775.215 prohibits registered sex offenders who have been convicted of certain sexual crimes from living within 1000 feet of a school, child care facility, park, or playground. The Crestview ordinance would add to this list school bus stops and community centers. These additional two categories go beyond what the state requires, thereby being more difficult to defend in a lawsuit with the bus stops being the most punitive part. Bus stops can be moved from one location to another, making frequent changes to the banishment zones/map.
If you live in Florida but not Okaloosa County, you could mention that you are opposed to increasing the residency restrictions as you do not want to see such a punitive measure spread to your county.
If you do not live in Florida, you could mention that you feel extremely uncomfortable traveling to a state that passes laws NOT based on empirically-validated research, but rather passes laws “just because they can.”
Crestview City is in Okaloosa County where many tourists travel every year to Destin and Fort Walton Beach to enjoy the gulf. You would never feel comfortable vacationing in a county where some of its citizens are treated inhumanely and forced into homelessness where, as Councilor Bullard stated, “If I can prevent just one sex offender from moving into the city, and we can dwindle those numbers and have the chief’s people go after them, I am pretty much for it.” Is Okaloosa going to the level of third world countries? Is the Crestview Council going for complete banishment?
ALL research shows that residency restrictions have had no effect on sexual recidivism rates. County ordinances should be based on empirically-validated research.
This past June of 2023, Volusia County Council Members looked at drafting an ordinance that would have expanded the residency restrictions to 1500 feet in the unincorporated part of the county. After hearing from many Florida citizens and looking at the research, the council decided NOT to increase their residency restrictions to 1500 feet.
The 1,500 feet will be measured from the outermost boundaries of schools, etc., to the outermost boundaries of one’s residence. It will be a linear (straight line) measure. Fifteen hundred feet is the equivalent of five adjacent football fields laid end to end.
Released murderers, perpetrators of domestic violence (whose actions are at times more harmful to a child than certain sex offense cases would be), violent gang leaders, armed robbers, etc., are allowed to live anywhere, including next to a school.
Residency restrictions only mandate where you must be located between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am each day. These are times when children are not at school, not at a day care facility, not any of the forbidden zones. They are at home with their families. How is this going to keep children safer?
The sexual recidivism rate for people with a past sex offense is lower than that for all other crimes, except for murder.
When threatened with legal challenges, Gainesville and Palm Beach County rolled back their 2500-foot residency restrictions to the state’s 1000 ft, and there has NOT been an increase in sex offenses because of the rollback. The Gainesville county attorney said that a lawsuit would be easier to defend against if Gainesville stuck with the state’s 1000-foot restriction.
In at least 93% of sex offenses committed against minors, the child knows the perpetrator (family member, school staff, coaching staff, church staff, etc.), debunking the myth of “stranger danger.”
Research also shows that at least 90% of FUTURE sex offenses will be committed by people NOT on the registry. How is Crestview going to be monitoring these people who will be the predominant perpetrators in the future, while using so many resources to monitor registrants who are highly unlikely to sexually re-offend?
Expanding the residency restrictions increases the homeless population. Research shows that being homeless makes it more difficult for people released from prison to reintegrate back into society successfully as law-abiding citizens, thereby increasing their chances of committing an offense of any type. Such instability makes society less safe.
Residency restrictions have proven to be ineffective and punitive to people on the registry along with their family members; education is the key to prevention. Preventative programs should be offered in the Crestview City schools, colleges, workplaces, and other public venues to stop the cycle of abuse, raise awareness of the consequences, identify support resources, and ultimately restore families.
Recommend that the council members and mayor google the effectiveness of residency restrictions.
FLORIDA ACTION COMMITTEE WILL BE SENDING INFORMATION TO THE COUNCIL MEMBERS AND MAYOR. THIS INFORMATION THAT WILL BE MAILED THROUGH THE U.S. MAIL ALONG WITH MANY CONTACTS FROM OUR MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES/FRIENDS HAS PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE IN OTHER SITUATIONS: 2023 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND VOLUSIA COUNTY.
Contact Information for council members and mayor:
Mayor JB Whitten
850-682-1560 ext 252
No phone number given
No phone number given
No phone number given
198 North Wilson Street
Crestview, Florida 32536
Research showing residency restrictions are ineffective:
Why Kansas does not have residency restrictions: Housing restrictions appear to be based largely on myths…Research does not support these myths (#1). The sex offender residency restriction was a very well-intentioned effort to keep the children of our communities safe from sex offenders. It has, however, had unintended consequences that effectively decrease community safety (#10). (Kansas Department of Corrections, “Sex Offender Housing Restrictions”) https://www.doc.ks.gov/publications/CFS/sex-offender-housing-restrictions
Why Maryland does not have residency restrictions – because information put out by other states has shown that residency restrictions do not help to prevent sexual offenses from occurring because the victims and the offenders, in most situations, know each other. Some states, such as Iowa and Florida, have found that residency restrictions can make it very difficult to track sex offenders who have become homeless. (Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, “Sex Offender Registry FAQs,” see question 15) https://www.dpscs.state.md.us/onlineservs/sor/frequently_asked_questions.shtml
In 2017, the Illinois Task Force reported that research showed that residency restrictions lead neither to reductions in sexual crime nor recidivism. (Illinois December 2017 Sex Offenses & Sex Offender Registration Task Force Final Report, page iv) http://www.icjia.state.il.us/assets/articles/SOTF_report_final_12292017.pdf
“There is no research to support residence restrictions as effective in reducing sexual recidivism. The Minnesota Department of Corrections concluded in one study that ‘during the past 16 years, not one sex offender released from a Minnesota Correctional Facility has been re-incarcerated for a sex offense in which he made contact with a juvenile victim near a school, park, or daycare center close to his home.’” (“Residency Restrictions for Sexual Offenders in Minnesota: False Perceptions for Community Safety”, Richard Weinberger, 2016) https://www.ci.new-prague.mn.us/vertical/sites/%7BAD7ECB62-2C5E-4BA0-8F19-1426026AFA3E%7D/uploads/MnATSA-Residency-Restrictions-2016.pdf
In 2018, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, sex offender residency restrictions were declared unconstitutional. https://floridaactioncommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/OrderGrantingDefsMotiontoDismiss.pdf
“Residency restrictions have not accomplished the goals that politicians have promised they would but have caused collateral consequences that can actually make society worse off.” (Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice, “No Place to Call Home: Rethinking Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders”, Gina Puls) https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1102&context=jlsj
“Residency restrictions should be abolished.” (Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Levenson, Leibowitz, and Grady, 2016, “Grand Challenges: Social Justice and the Need for Evidence-Based Sex Offender Registry Reform”, page 22) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304990286_Grand_Challenges_Social_Justice_and_the_Need_for_Evidence-based_Sex_Offender_Registry_Reform)
From the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina, “policymakers need to rethink…residency restriction laws and change them to reflect empirical evidence based on the nature of sexual offending…that change could bring about meaningful reductions in homelessness, associated with being a registered sex offender.” (University of South Carolina African American Studies Program, “Sex Offender Residence Restrictions and Homelessness”) https://sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/african_american_studies/about/news/2019/offender.php Actual Study: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0887403419862334
In Broward County, 27.6% of registrants are homeless, and in Miami-Dade, 28.2% are homeless, with residency restrictions being the main obstacle in finding stable housing. ( Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review – 2021, pages 25-26)
In Jacksonville, Florida, arrest histories were used “to assess the effects of a recently expanded municipal 2,500-foot residence restriction ordinance on sex crimes and sex offense recidivism…No significant differences in city wide sex crimes or recidivist sex crimes were found…The residence restriction did not achieve its intended goal of reducing recidivism.” (Crimes and Delinquency, “Effectiveness of Residence Restrictions in Preventing sex offense Recidivism,” , Matt R. Nobles, Jill S. Levenson, Tash J. Youstin, 2012) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0011128712449230
“…legislators have passed regulatory laws aimed at reducing recidivism among convicted sexual offenders. These policies…may contribute to an increasing risk for recidivism. In fact, evidence on the effectiveness of these laws suggests that they may not prevent recidivism or sexual violence and result in more harm than good.” (National Library of Medicine, “Sexual Offender Laws and Prevention of Sexual Violence or Recidivism,” Kelly K. Bonnar-Kidd, 2019) https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820068/
Florida probation and parole officers surveyed indicated “that these officers believe that these (residency) restrictions as applied in Florida, give the public a false sense of security…” (Florida Department of Law Enforcement, “Sex Offender Residency Restrictions and Other Sex Offender Management Strategies: The Probation Officer Perspective in Florida,” A. L. Datz) https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/FCJEI/Programs/SLP/Documents/Full-Text/Datz-Amy-Research-paper.aspx
Research showing most future sex crimes are committed by people NOT on the registry:
“The majority of empirical studies indicate that those convicted of a sexual offense have no previous sexual offense on their record, and in one instance over 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time offenders (Hepburn &Griffin, 2002; Sandler et al, 2008).” See Discussion on page 20. (Journal of Experimental Criminology, Kristen M. Zgoba, Meghan M. Mitchell, 2021, “The effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings?”) The effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings (floridaactioncommittee.org)
“…most new sexually-based crimes are committed by someone not on the registry. In Ohio in 1999, 92% of those convicted of a sex offense against a child and 93% of those convicted of a sex offense against a teenager were first-time offenders. Most recently, Sandler et al., in their analysis of the effectiveness of Megan’s Law in New York, reported that 96% of all new arrests for sexual crimes occurred among those without previous sexual crime convictions.” (National Library of Medicine, “Sexual Offender Laws and Prevention of Sexual Violence or Recidivism”, Kelly K. Bonnar-Kidd, PhD, 2010) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820068/:
“Analyses…showed that over 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time sex offenders, casting doubt on the ability of laws that target repeat offenders to meaningfully reduce sexual offending.” (“Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law”, Jeffrey C. Sandler, Naomi J. Freeman, Kelly Michael Socia, 2008) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232505213_Does_a_Watched_Pot_Boil_A_Time-Series_Analysis_of_New_York_State’s_Sex_Offender_Registration_and_Notification_Law
“Almost all (95%) of sex crimes are committed by someone who would not be on the sex offender registry.” (Psychology Today, “Sex Offender Registries”, Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., 2019) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/protecting-children-sexual-abuse/201908/sex-offender-registries
Research showing that minors know their perpetrators approximately 93% of the time, i.e., they are not strangers:
Ninety-three percent of child victims know their perpetrator. (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, RAINN, “Children and Teens: Statistics”) https://www.rainn.org/statistics/children-and-teens
More than 9 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Study, 2021) https://bjs.ojp.gov/nibrs/reports/sarble/sarble19
Under “Discussion”: “As upwards of ninety percent of victims and offenders know and prey on one another, we need to confront the uncomfortable truth that those who commit sexual offenses are usually not strangers.” (“The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings”, Kristen Zgoba and Meghan Mitchell, 2021) The effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings (floridaactioncommittee.org)
” Concerning kidnapping and child sex trafficking, ‘stranger danger’ is usually not a factor in the equation. Kids are virtually never grabbed off the street and pulled into an unmarked van.” (SocialMiami.com, “Senator Lauren Book: Masks Do Not Increase Kidnapping Risk”, Lauren Book) https://socialmiami.com/senator-lauren-book-masks-do-not-increase-kidnapping-risk-for-children/
Sexual recidivism rates for people with a past sex offense:
American Law Institute: In June of 2021 the American Law Institute (ALI), probably the most honored non-governmental law reform organization in the country, which includes top federal appeals judges, along with law professors and other legal experts, proposed major changes to the state sex offense registries. One reason cited was that research shows a relatively low sexual recidivism rate after being caught and serving time in prison. (See page 484 of the report.)
Also on page 484, footnote 23 of the ALI report is found: “as few as 5.3% [of sex offenders] re-offend within three years, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as opposed to rates in the 65% to 80% range for drug offenders and thieves.” (Stuart A. Scheingold et al., Sexual Violence, Victim Advocacy, and Republican Criminology: Washington State’s Community Protection Act (1994), 28 LAW & SOC’Y REV. 729, 743)
Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from State Prison: 9-Year Follow-Up (2005-14): The U. S. Department of Justice May of 2019 Recidivism Report found that released inmates in 30 states, whose most serious offense was rape or sexual assault, were arrested at a rate of 7.7% for rape or sexual assault over the 9-year period from 2005 to 2014. That means that 92.3% did NOT re-offend. This study only considered the most violent of sex crimes. When all sexual offenses are included, the rate is lower.
Karl Hanson, Connecticut’s One Standard of Justice January 2021 Webinar: “Sex Offender Recidivism Risk Not What You Think”, https://youtu.be/Hnf3bmoPLx4 – start at 19 minutes: Karl Hanson, one of the leading researchers in the field of risk assessment and treatment for people who have committed a sex offense, compiled data from many different research studies on re-offense rates for people on the sex offense registry and found the following to be true: The lifetime sexual re-offense rate is anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on which study you use, with the larger studies having the lower rates.