Weekly Update #242
Dear Members and Advocates,
There’s that Benjamin Franklin saying about the only certainties in life being death and taxes. I’m sure there are some out there who have figured out a way to evade taxes, but to my knowledge there’s nobody out there who has been able to live forever. Personally, I’m not afraid of dying. It’s not due to faith or anything, I just think that when it’s my time, it’s my time and there will be nothing to stress over. What I am very worried and stressed about is what comes before. Not immediately before, but what could come during the years or even decades before. What will my mobility be like? Will I have special medical needs? Will I recognize where I am at all times?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approximately 70% of retirees will need some type of long-term care during their lives. And we’re not talking about infrequent trips to the doctor, we’re talking about nursing home care or full-time assistance for an average duration of a few years! While it’s my hope for all of us that we get instantly taken peacefully in our sleep after a long day of tennis at the age of 100, the reality is that most of us will arrive at a time in our lives where we will be unable to care for ourselves and that’s the period that I find most terrifying in our situation.
Last week in Montgomery County, Texas, an elderly, registrant was denied an exemption to a residency restriction in the city of Shenandoah so that he can move in with his daughter and receive end-of-life care. One of the City Councilman, Ted Fletcher, was quoted as saying, “[u]nfortunately, with this 79-year-old who is bedridden, it doesn’t change the fact that they are still a sex offender… that is what happens when you break the law.” Really?!? So it’s not about public safety, it all ties back to punishment? And he’s not still a sex offender! You chose to use that label but the man is not offending ([email protected] in case anyone would like to educate Councilman Fletcher)
I would like to think that the complete lack of empathy is isolated to a handful of jerks running a Podunk town in Texas, but it’s not. Several months ago when we were desperately seeking an exemption to the residency restrictions for a man seeking to temporarily shelter anywhere while he recovers from cancer surgery, we reached out to the City Commissioners and the Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A man literally could not receive live-saving surgery because he was forced into homelessness by the residency restrictions and needed a place to recover. Nobody even replied to our pleas for help. When the man was killed by a hit and run driver (which they never found – no surprise there), I posted another plea for help, which I ask you to re-read today.
Guys, this is not a possibility. It is a near certainty that you or someone you love will be in a situation one day where you need life sustaining or life saving care and a senseless residency restriction will stand in your way of getting it. Some of us are already in that situation. While residency restrictions are useless anyhow, do nothing to make our communities safer and should be abolished, there NEEDS, NEEDS, NEEDS to be an exemption for individuals who are too elderly or infirmed to take care of themselves.
For those who have no empathy for the registrant, think of their caregivers! These are often innocent spouses and children who are forced to deal with the stress of navigating the maze of registration requirements. The legwork and compliance burden is on them. As one member wrote in a letter to FAC, “I have to do everything for [my husband] concerning the registry requirements. He is incapable of understanding the statutes, and I live in fear that if I mess up on anything, he could go to prison for up to 5 years.” It’s just not fair.
We need to start on the municipal level and move up the ladder. There should be an exemption to all sex offender residency restrictions for individuals who, by virtue of a physical or mental impairment as certified by a qualified physician, are unable to live independently. Period. We should also explore whether residency restrictions (and/or registration in general) violates The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and assess whether a proportionate share of federal funding for the homeless are allocated to the registrant population. Until we are successful in finding relief through one of these avenues, we need to find ways to help these disabled citizens get off the streets today! This has become a matter of life or death.
FAC has established a subcommittee focused on aging and disability. We encourage you to become involved; simply click here and select the focus group named “Elder Care”. We have solicited the guidance of Dr. Stephanie Jerstad (the guest on our last membership call), who performed one of the only studies to examine registrant access to assisted living. And we continue to hammer indifferent politicians with facts until it will sink in. We’re getting the ball rolling and we need each of you to help. This is an issue that WILL ABSOLUTELY impact you one day and it’s much easier to tackle it now than to deal with it when the time inevitably comes.
The Florida Action Committee
ANNOUNCEMENTS – MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Next Monthly Membership Meeting – Thursday December 1 at 8pm ET. Call 319-527-3487. Topic: Helping Yourself and Others. Guest Kevin Scott, Director of Just Income GNV, a guaranteed income project in Alachua County, Florida that provides temporary, unconditional monthly payments directly to people who have been impacted by the justice system – no strings attached. This pilot program is designed and administered by formerly incarcerated people. They believe a guaranteed income can mitigate known barriers to successful reentry and unlock the inherent potential of our justice-impacted neighbors. If you have trouble connecting? Text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 to received a call back and be connected to the meeting.
Next New Membership Orientation Meeting- Thursday December 8 at 8pm ET. Call 319-527-3487. No agenda. Call in to ask about resources, the organization, volunteer opportunities, or anything on your mind. 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. Just some of the upcoming events below.
Sat Dec 3 – Holiday Party and Luncheon in Apopka from 11am-4pm. Italian Buffet served from noon-3pm. Come early and stay as long as you want to mingle, play music, and be entertained. Bring a guest. For location RSVP to Anita at [email protected] or text 904-452-8322.
Sat Dec 3 – Holiday Pot Luck in Sarasota from noon-4pm. Join us for an open house holiday party. For location RSVP to [email protected] or call 941-500-4706
Sat Dec 10-Free Family Support Group facilitated by licensed counselors. 11am-1pmET. Must be FAC non-registrant member. For an invitation, contact [email protected] or leave message at 833-273-7325 Option 1.
Sat Dec 10 – Holiday Party and Pot Luck in Fort Myers from noon-3pm. Join us for cheer and entertainment. For details and location, RSVP to [email protected] or text/call 941-315-7914. Family, friends and adult children are welcome.
Virtual Holiday Party – Dec 24 (4-10pm) & Dec 25 (noon-6pm) – 12 hours of Entertainment. Call in for fun, entertainment, holiday stories and music. Spend an hour or more with various county coordinators as your hosts and DJs. We guarantee to make you crack a smile and laugh aloud as we will bring the party to you! Watch for more information.
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
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. In years past I’d be packing right now, but this year and for the past 5 years or so, I’m not. Here’s why… Since I first started coming home from University, the Thanksgiving tradition always involved travel somewhere. It was such a…
The Sex Offender Registry Failed Them: 135 Chicago-area coaches sexually abused students over past decade.
According to an analysis by NBC 5 Investigates, 135 Chicago-area coaches have been sanctioned, suspended, disciplined or convicted of sexual abuse or misconduct since 2010, and the search is still ongoing! Experts cited in the article said coaching presents a “special…
When Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, it required states to enact a sex offender registry for those convicted of certain sex crimes. In the 28 years since the law has passed, sex offender registries have become a tool for the…
Last week, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals, remanded a lower court’s dismissal of a sting case back to the trial court. While the outcome (a dismissed ICAC sting case was reopened) wasn’t great, we’re getting a bit more attention to these stings and the rules…
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Florida Action Committee