Barred from other shelters, registrants were left with few options as Hurricane Dorian approached.
For some people convicted of sex crimes in Florida, the only shelter open to them during Hurricane Dorian is the county jail.
In some counties, people on the registry are barred from shelters set up for those evacuating, and being told to go to separate locations, away from children and other community members. If they attempt to stay with friends or relatives, they face daunting residency and registration requirements, according to the Florida Action Committee, which advocates for reform of sex offender registry laws. Failure to comply can mean a felony conviction and incarceration.
In Osceola County, a separate shelter has been set up at the housing agency for “sex offenders,” meaning people on the registry, according to a local news report by WKMG-TV. And in Flagler County, registered sex offenders were directed to go to the sheriff’s office for shelter, according to a WJXT-TV report. The Nassau County Board of Commissioners website advised people on the sex offender registry to seek shelter in the county jail.
“It was such a traumatic experience to be incarcerated. I’m not going to subject myself to that voluntarily,” a representative with the Florida Action Committee told The Appeal. “I’d rather tie myself to a tree.”