It isn’t clear why Charles Hobbs was arrested in January. More than 20 years ago, a judge gave him five years probation for a crime that required him to register as a sex offender in one of the most restrictive counties in the country. He had no criminal record before that, and until his recent arrest at age 51, had no criminal record since. When the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep the country, a judge ordered him released from jail and placed in home confinement, given his multiple underlying conditions of congenital heart failure, kidney failure and hypertension.

But for reasons that also aren’t clear, that never happened. Last month, he caught the virus, and his condition deteriorated until a fellow prisoner found him unconscious. He was revived and transferred to another cell with other prisoners who had tested positive for covid-19. He got sicker and ultimately died alone in a Miami hospital on May 2.

For 22 years, Charles Hobbs tried to overcome the mistakes he made in 1997. But the stigma of a sex offense followed him all his life. Thanks to punitive laws, dizzying registration requirements and an indifferent corrections staff, his mistake would ultimately lead to his death.


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