Brevard County currently has an ordinance that makes it illegal for registrants to enter into or remain within the 1000-foot buffer zone surrounding any school, daycare center, park or playground, with only a few exceptions given. Now Commissioner Tobia would like to add an amendment to that ordinance, whereby private businesses would be able to declare themselves the center of an exclusion zone, banning anyone registered as a sexual offender or predator from entering within a 1000-foot radius of the outermost boundary of their business.
Our concern is not just Brevard County. It is the domino effect that can lead other counties to pass such ordinances, as has happened in the past. We need as many people as possible to write these commissioners. Currently, there has been very little opposition within Brevard County, so the commissioners feel comfortable with passing it. If you are not a resident of Brevard County, you can still let the commissioners know of your concern as you do not want ordinances like this one spreading to your county. But Brevard County residents, you really need to speak up. Without you, we are all sunk.
These are the email addresses and phone numbers for the commissioners along with talking points for those who need some suggestions:
Rita Pritchett (Vice Chair), 321-607-6901: [email protected]
Bryan Lober (Chair), 321-454-6601: [email protected]
John Tobia, 321-633-2075: [email protected]
Curt Smith, 321-633-2044: [email protected]
Kristina Isnardi, 321-253-6611: [email protected]
- Tobia state that there is a high propensity to re-offend: Re-offense rate for committing another sex crime is in the single digits. There are numerous studies out there to support this fact, one being the May of 2019 U. S. Department of Justice Report on the Recidivism Rate over a 9-Year Period for Released Inmates Whose Most Serious Offense Was Rape/Sexual Assault being 7.7%.
- Commissioner Smith inquired as to what had happened to initiate such an amendment: Tobia had not a single case to give Smith. The 867 registrants in Brevard County are not re-offending.
- Unconstitutional: It would be applied retroactively against people whose offense was before the ordinance was passed.
- We already have Florida Statute 856.022: This statute prohibits anyone on the sex offense registry from loitering within 300 feet of where children congregate.
- This amendment is proposing 1000 feet away from the outermost boundary all around the property: One thousand feet is 3 and 1/3 football fields. The area of a circle with a radius of 1000 feet is 3,141,592 square feet. The radii on these circles would actually be longer than 1000 feet if taken from the center of the property, making the area even greater.
- There is no research to support exclusion/proximity/buffer zones: Ask the Brevard County commissioners to provide their research that shows the effectiveness of having these zones.
- Enforcement/compliance would be impossible: How do you know if you are 900 ft or 1050 ft from the outermost boundary? Will a map be provided to help registrants and law enforcement?
- This amendment will keep law-abiding registrants from meeting the constitutional basic needs provided to all citizens of this country: attending government meetings; visiting banks, businesses, restaurants, and in family/friends’ homes that they have been doing for years without incident.
- Lober wants the amendment to apply to those labeled as a predator: What about those labeled as a “predator” who are law-abiding citizens now? Released murderers, gang leaders, and armed robbers who re-offend are given the right to live and be physically present anywhere in Brevard County. Mr. Lober stated that “predators” are registrants who have two or more second degree felonies or have committed a first degree felony. In the statute on predators, it defines a predator as “repeat sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children.” In Florida, the term is used for anyone where the victim is under 12 years old. Florida does not differentiate between “over the cloth” and “under the cloth”, as some states do. All one has to do is touch a child under the age of 12 over the cloth on the breast, buttock, or between the legs momentarily, and the prosecutor has the choice to classify the accused as a predator. Florida does not use risk assessments, so everyone is put in the same box. There are many people labeled as a predator who are leading law-abiding lives and are not a threat to anyone. What Mr. Lober is really requesting is a risk assessment which he will unfortunately not get in Florida.
- Tobia stated that anyone violating this new amendment could not only face jail time of up to 60 days but also a possible fine of up to $500 and be subject to consideration for incarceration if there are other violations: Why is Mr. Tobia looking for more ways to incarcerate people who are now law-abiding citizens?