(Weekly Update #227)
Dear Members and Advocates,
Sometimes it is important to be direct. We start this week’s update with a clear and candid statement of our goal and a commitment to keep fighting until our goal is accomplished. Florida Action Committee’s position is that the Sex Offender Registry must be abolished. Over the coming weeks we will be working to update our website and our printed collateral to remove any reference to “reforming” the registry. The registry, in any form, is ineffective and does more harm than good. It needs to be done away with!
“Florida Action Committee (FAC) intends to inform the media, public, and legislators with facts versus myths about the sex offender registry and citizens forced to register. Registry schemes are proven to be harmful to society and unconstitutional. Therefore, FAC works to abolish the registry in Florida.”
Every state in this country has had a sex offender registry for at least a quarter century. That is enough time to evaluate the effectiveness of the registry. It is ineffective. There are currently approximately one million people registered as sex offenders or sexual predators. That is large enough of a sample size to evaluate recidivism rates. The recidivism rates of people with past sexual offenses is lower than any other class of offense other than murder. There are millions of family members, friends, employers, employees and other third parties who are impacted by having someone they live, work, or associate with on the registry. The collateral consequences of the registry creates innocent victims. And possibly the most compelling reason for abolishing the registry is the housing and employment instability and social ostracism resulting from being on the registry serves as a barrier for reentry and driver of re-offense. The registry makes the public less safe.
It is important to be crystal clear about our position on several other points as well. The Florida Action Committee does not defend sexual offending. We are vehemently against sexual assault in any form. We are not in any way affiliated with any organization that advocates for sexual relationships between adults and children. We believe in the criminalization of sexual offenses. We believe those who commit sexual offenses should be held accountable. We want a safer world and we support efforts that will reduce sexual offending.
To accomplish that, we recognize that the registry does not reduce sexual offending or improve public safety. We also recognize that the registry does not reduce repeat offenses. These two objectives are the stated legislative intent of the registry, but decades of research overwhelmingly tells us that the registry has failed to accomplish these objectives. Instead, the registry has done needless damage to the million people on it and their families. The registry has prevented people from reintegrating and becoming meaningful members of our communities. Given the fact that the sex offender registry has failed to make our communities safer in light of the significant harm it causes, it is time we abolish it completely.
We hope that this clearer position will be adopted by other advocacy groups dealing with the registry. To those groups we remind you that the empirical evidence does not support a registry. While it has been a belief that by proposing step-down approaches, such as “law enforcement only” registries or removing “some” from the registry it might be a more palatable position to take when going up against the popularity of the registry, this is a dangerous position to take. First, the suggestion that the sex offender registry should exist in any form only serves to validate “a registry”, when we know that it does not work. Second, while it is easy to throw a sub-group under the bus, historically registrants as a whole have been that sub-group when it comes to prison policy, voting, or other criminal justice reform measures and we know that does not work either. The registry defies research, it is unconstitutional and it is not the right thing to do. We must go all in!
Several events have taken place over the last few weeks that have reinforced our push to take a stronger stand and be more direct in our goal. The first has been the legislative ping-pong that has been taking place in the courts. Whether it’s the State Court in Pennsylvania or the 6th Circuit and Michigan, the Courts have found the registry to be unconstitutional and punitive and States have kept trying to go back to the drawing board to try to come up with tweaks to make them constitutional. There is no sense in trying to fix something that is irreparably broken and ineffective. The dialogue needs to change from “how can we fix this” to “why do we need this thing in the first place?” The second event was the heroic act of one individual in Oregon by the name of Donald Surrett. We wrote about Mr. Surrett more extensively here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/donald-surrett-is-a-hero/, but we will append that story with an important point. The argument for the registry has always been, “if it saves just one child…”. We now have evidence that Donald Surrett, “a registrant”, saved many men, women, and children. We have no evidence that the registry has saved any!
Please join us in supporting our mission.
The Florida Action Committee
ANNOUNCEMENTS – MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Next Monthly Membership Meeting – Thursday October 6 at 8pm ET. Call 319-527-3487. Topic: How the Registry impacts Women and a study on Mothers of Registered Citizens with Guest Shelley Kavanaugh LCSW. If you have trouble connecting, text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 to received a call back and be connected to the meeting.
See Calendar of Events – Keep up with Meet-and-Greets in your area, Support groups, Membership Calls, and other events. For questions and more information contact the Membership Team; [email protected] or call 833-273-7325,Option 1.
Click Here for Calendar, and double click on the event to view details and RSVP instructions
Thu Sept 8 – New Member Orientation at 8pm ET- All members and interested persons are welcome to join the call to learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities, Call 319-527-3487
Sat Sep 10 and Oct 8 from 11am-1pm ET – Family Support Group Zoom call. Therapist-led support group of spouses, partners, parents, and relatives who have loved ones on the Registry. By invitation only. Contact the Membership Team to participate.
Sep 23-25 – FAC County Coordinator Weekend Retreat in Vero Beach. Come for a few hours or stay all weekend. Your FAC representatives are getting together to discuss, plan and organize more local and state-wide gatherings to bring members together, share resources, and strengthen our voices in Florida. Members interested in becoming a County Coordinator, or just meeting with us sometime during the weekend to share ideas, brainstorm and plan events are always welcome. Contact the Membership Team to participate.
Thu Sep 29 at 7pm NEW Men’s Group– Call in to meet others for a discussion on issues that impact men. Discussion will be based in part on the book “28 PITFALLS OF A MAN: A Practical Handbook Confronting Traps Every Man Will Face”by FAC member Rodney Rankins. E-book is available, and hard copies of of the book will be available at discounted price through the FAC Membership Team. To Participant in the Men’s Group discussion, call 319-527-3487.. If any trouble connecting or if your service provider charges a fee, then simply text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 to receive a call back and be connected for free.
Oct 5-7 Palm Beach Re-Entry Summit – If you are involved with Re-Entry of Returning Citizens after incarceration, or want to become involved with a Re-Entry Task Force in your area, you may want to consider attending the Summit (at your own expense) or contacting the Membership team with your interest/concerns. At least one FAC Board member will be attending the Summit to represent Registered Citizens and ensure that our community is INCLUDED in all re-entry service programs and opportunities. Contact the Membership Team with your interests.
Sat Oct 22 – Triple Play – Three separate Meet and Greets planned for Hernando/Brooksville, DeSoto/Sarasota, and the Fort Myers areas. Watch for details and plan to attend a meeting near you. This is a great opportunity to build relationships and help to strengthen FAC membership in your local area.
Sat Oct 29 – Civil Commitment: Intent vs Reality- Apopka (Orange County) – FAC is hosting the visit of a research Sociologist from University of South Carolina, Greensboro in preparation of his research on Civil Commitment. He is interested in meeting and talking to persons that have knowledge and experience with the Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia FL. Former residents, family members, professionals are invited to join us to identify issues/concerns, understand the intent vs reality of the system, and to identify the areas of research that need to be studied to support changes. Contact the Membership Team to participate.
Become a County Coordinator. The only requirement is your desire to HELP us organize your county. If you are interested in joining the County Coordinator Team, leave message at 833-273-7325, Option 1, or email [email protected]
Letter-Writing Campaigns – If you would like to participate in sending educational information to specific decision makers in Florida, please contact [email protected]. Volunteers must be willing to proudly identify themselves by using their own name and return address on the letters.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Stranger danger is the belief that someone unknown to the child and family (aka “an adult male stranger”) will be the one to perpetrate the abuse. However, this belief is misguided and can in fact be harmful as the large majority of those of individuals who abuse…
Once in a while I check the status of McGuire v. Strange (rather, it’s now McGuire v. Marshall, since the governor of Alabama has since changed), a case that has been pending in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals since 2015. That wasn’t a typo, 2015 is correct. The…
FAC has sent letters to the Sheriffs of all 67 Counties in Florida, asking them to warn registrants of the scam targeting registrants across Florida and all states. FAC also calls on the affiliate organizations in each State, encouraging them to send a similar request…
The late Joseph Kent Brown wrote a law review article for Florida State University, in which he wrote, “of considerable importance in our society is the right of an individual to protect his or her reputation from false, irresponsible or malicious publications.” it…
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Florida Action Committee