Dear Members and Advocates,
Sometimes you need to have a sense of humor in this situation. We monitor the news headlines for relevant stories and yesterday several news outlets have written about the new layout of the FDLE sex offender website. It’s a non-issue from most people’s perspective, but an opportunity for the FDLE to give the appearance they are “doing something”.
As I read through the articles, I expected to see hysterical and hateful comments, but to my surprise there weren’t many. Actually, as of the time I am writing this, there are barely any. Are people over the novelty of the registry? Are they beginning to realize it does nothing to make anyone safer? The lack of comments encouraged me, but what made my day was the only comment on the Orlando Sentinel’s post. Someone wrote of the new Florida Sex Offender website, “Doesn’t work. I entered ‘Donald Trump’ and nothing came up.” Having nothing to do with politics. The comment had me laughing. It also made a very valid point. This registry isn’t a registry of the sex offenders in our state, it’s a registry of people who got caught and prosecuted. There are many more who didn’t get caught or because of political or financial resources got away with it.
We know the re-offense rates for registrants is in the single digits. We know that over 95% of sex offenses are committed by someone NOT on the registry. We know a lot about sex offender statistics, because we bother to read the studies. Most of the public does not. They are totally unaware of the vast research that has been complied over the past 20 years and are still drinking the “frightening and high” Kool Aid because it works for the politicians, it makes a sexy news story and it keeps the funds flowing into the pockets of the people that feed off that Kool Aid.
It’s our job to educate the public and we need to do a better job! Jackson County is considering a 2500-foot sex offender residency restriction ordinance. They will hold a public meeting next week to discuss the plan. We posted a request on our website, asking for volunteers who can attend that meeting on behalf of FAC and read our position on their proposed ordinance into the record. Only ONE person tentatively volunteered! We sincerely appreciate the one who stepped up but are bewildered by the fact that it was only one! We should have a line of people waiting to take this opportunity!
These public hearings are our chance to make a difference. To put our objections on the record. If you are within a reasonable travel distance and not otherwise obligated to work or on life support, shame on you for not showing up! Because if you don’t show, it’ll pass. And if you think you’re not impacted because you’re not in Jackson County, wait until the neighboring counties scramble to pass something harsher to avoid the mass exodus from Jackson.
And if you think it won’t make a difference and the legislators don’t care. You’re probably right! But here’s where it does matter; if we ever need to file a lawsuit to challenge the ordinance, nobody can show up to court and say, “but Judge, we had a public hearing, and nobody was against this great ordinance.” And they will be right too!
As you know from last week’s good news about the Ft. Lauderdale SORR, the tides are shifting. But we cannot wait for favorable decisions and we cannot count on others to act. If we want to make a change we need to make it ourselves. We need to lay the foundation for future challenges! A Judge will one day hear about all the letters, calls and testimony made in opposition to bad bills, but the judge won’t hear about them if they don’t happen!
During tomorrow night’s member call, in addition to a brief overview of the impact of the Ft. Lauderdale decision, we will be talking about action plans, volunteer opportunities and ways that we can all use our strengths and skill sets to get where we need to be. Please join!
The Florida Action Committee
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
The US Department of Justice, Office of Sex Offender Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) has put together some handy compilations of recent case law on several sex offender issues: You can find links to the materials here: Case Law Update 2018…
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a man claiming to be armed with a machine gun, resisted arrest after driving into a Winter Park home. Once he was subdued, he claimed that he drove into the house “because a sex offender lived there”. The house was reported to be…
Below is a copy of the letter from FAC to the Commissioners of Jackson County, Florida, who are considering expanding their sex offender residency restriction to 2500 feet. A public meeting will be held in on April 10, 2018 in Marianna, FL to discuss the proposed…
In an order issued today by Federal Judge Mark Walker, the State has until April 26, 2018 to replace its current process for restoring felon voting rights. Judge Walker’s order requires the governor and his cabinet to establish “specific and neutral criteria to direct…