BOYNTON BEACH, FLORIDA – March 27, 2020. The Florida Action Committee (FAC), the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute are calling on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to temporarily suspend the requirement that persons required to register for past sexual offenses appear in-person at the Sheriff’s office to report during the Coronavirus state of emergency.
Florida Statutes mandate in-person reporting every six months, quarterly, or monthly for registrants who are transient. Changes to vehicles or reporting travel for three or more days (or changes to prior reported travel) must also be reported within 48 hours in-person. Failure to report in-person is a felony. In some cases, the registrant is also required to report to the driver’s license offices, which are not even open during this crisis.
Earlier this month the Governor issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a State of Emergency for COVID-19. Governments across the world are issuing stay-at-home orders and the World Health Organization warns people to avoid public places to protect themselves and their communities from the pandemic. The Florida Department of Corrections announced that officers are working with individuals on supervision to adjust reporting schedules to minimize congregating at probation offices and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite the crisis, Florida has not yet suspended, for the duration of the emergency, the requirement that persons on the registry appear in-person at Sheriff’s offices across the state to report matters that can easily be reported online, by mail or over the phone.
“Requiring in-person reporting in Sheriff’s offices, subjects the registrants and the law enforcement staff processing the reports to a heightened risk of contagion that affects the law enforcement and registrant’s families and the public at large.”, says FAC President, Gail Colletta. “It’s irrational to put this population in a position where they must choose between risking their health or risking a felony.”
The ACLU of Florida has been in talks with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which it has urged to support this request. It is important to note that the groups are not calling on the Governor to suspend the registration obligation, just to allow the reporting to be done online, by mail or by phone during this state of emergency in order to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
For more information contact: [email protected]
Florida Action Committee (FAC), founded in 2006, is a state-wide consortium of concerned citizens and professionals whose purpose is to promote the prevention of sexual abuse while preserving the safety and dignity of all citizens through carefully structured laws targeting the truly violent, forced, and/or dangerous predatory acts of sex. FAC believes that many aspects of the current approach to sex offenders seriously undermine justice and actually increase the threat of sexual assault against others, particularly children. FAC opposes a publicized registry of sex offenders and seeks to bring an end to the humiliation of people who have already paid for their crimes. FAC asserts that only by supporting justice for all people—offenders and victims alike can a truly safe society be built and secured for all Americans.