It has been thought by many people that the algorithm used to determine the federal funding for each state’s sex offense registry took into account the number of people who are on the registry. In January of 2022, Florida Action Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland inquiring if this was the case for Florida’s bloated registry.
The Attorney General’s office forwarded our letter to SMART (Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking) for a response.
This was part of SMART’s response : “The amount of funding awarded to each jurisdiction under Byrne JAG is based on a formula that uses the jurisdiction’s overall population and violent crime statistics. The formula does not take into account the number of sex offenders in a jurisdiction’s registry database or on its public registry website.”
Steven Yoder, a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media and was our guest speaker on our March Membership Call, researched the bloated Florida registry in 2019. After reaching out to him on this topic, this was Yoder’s response: “Technically their response is correct: the federal guidelines for applying for the relevant grant funds don’t stipulate that the grant amount is tied to the number of a state’s registrants. However, Florida clearly believes the size of its registry is a benefit in its grant applications.”
Additionally, Yoder sent to Florida Action Committee Florida’s grant application form which he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Pages 9 – 12 of the 12-page Program Narrative has some interesting reading.
Mr. Yoder stated that “because SORNA almost inevitably expands the size of a state’s registry, there will always be an indirect link between a registry’s size and its receipt of the federal funds.”
Steven Yoder’s article “Florida’s Sex Offender Registry Proves Inescapable” ran in The Appeal in 2019. After a thorough investigative study of this issue, the following are a few of his findings:
- At the time of the article, 60 percent of the people listed on the Florida sex offense registry lived out of state, were in prison, or had been deported.
- “Florida’s registry increasingly scoops up anyone who has ever lived there or visited. Under state law, anyone with a sex crime in their past who comes to Florida for three days or more…has to visit a sheriff’s office to get fingerprinted and photographed and turn over myriad other details.”
- Defense attorney Ann Fitz was quoted as saying, “How are you protecting people from a so-called danger that doesn’t even have any jurisdictional tie to the state?”
Read more of Yoder’s findings in his 2019 article on how the FDLE utilizes its application for the grant money to use “the size of the registry to sell the state as a leader in punitiveness,” and how it inflates the percentage of offenders in compliance.
Every member of the U.S. Congress should read Steven Yoder’s article.
So this confirms what we already knew.
There are so many things one can deduce from the grant application but I think the main one is, it is all about making the registry larger and more encompassing, not the safety of the public it was supposedly going to protect. I am still confused how any State can keep people on a registry that are not citizens of that State and are no longer within its boundaries.
I’ve been saying this for years. Florida doesn’t want the registry to shrink because it funnels federal dollars into the state. Follow the money. Always follow the money.