Dear Members and Advocates;
Happy New Year!
It’s 2017. Holiday season is over. It’s time to get back to work fighting for change!
As we reflect upon 2016, there have been a lot of victories and accomplishments to be proud of. The 11th Circuit reversed (ruled in our favor) our Sex Offender Residency Restriction challenge, the Middle District issued a very favorable Order in our proximity ordinance challenge and we successfully obtained an injunction blocking the implementation of the new Internet Identifier restrictions that were to come into effect this past October.
And that’s just Florida! Nationwide, residency restrictions were ordered unconstitutional or repealed in several states, proximity ordinances also, and most significantly the 6th Circuit found that the registry does constitute punishment and ordered that it cannot be applied retroactively. Although not binding precedent in our state, these decisions should help in challenges FAC will bring in 2017.
2016 was also an election year. Not only will our country have a new president, but our State’s congress will be populated with many new members. It might be too early to know whether this will be a good or bad thing for us, but one thing is certain; we will need to hit the ground running in 2017, to make sure the new Senators and Representatives know who we are and to make sure we have an opportunity to get in front of them and educate them.
Even though 2016 was a very good year for FAC, our work is cut out for us! In 2017 we need to educate, legislate and litigate harder than we did last year and make even greater strides. The good news is we begin this year stronger and healthier than ever. The size of our membership has grown by more than 25% since last year and we now have a network of county and regional coordinators in place to service registrants and family members throughout our state. As word gets out; the number of professionals, community/religious groups and attorneys who are expressing an interest in becoming involved and helping is growing rapidly too. We are better than ever and only getting stronger.
We hope you will include FAC in your New Years’ resolutions, by committing to become more involved. To remind you of our motto; With Unity Comes Change, as we continue to come together and pitch in our skills, time and resources, we will continue to change the way people perceive registered individuals, we will continue to change the laws that unfairly punish registrants and their families and we will continue to rebuild our lives and the lives of ones we care about until they can rejoin society as productive members.
Let 2017 be our year!
The Florida Action Committee