Dear Members and Advocates:
Sorry this is coming to you a little late in the week but there’s lots to report this week. The “In Person Challenge” was filed yesterday afternoon. The lawsuit challenges the requirement that persons required to register MUST report IN PERSON to register things like vehicle changes or travel of 3 or more days. A copy of the complaint can be found here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/M25-v.-Swearingen-Complaint.pdf and we encourage you to read it, not only because we feel it’s a good complaint, but because it provides a useful summary of the circumstances that require you to report IN PERSON to the Sheriff’s office or to the Driver’s License office – some of which you may not realize you need to do.
Sadly, this week the Miami-Dade Sex Offender Residency Restriction Challenge lost. It was not an unexpected loss, but on behalf of the hundreds of people in Miami-Dade and across the state who are living homeless or apart from their family because of the residency restrictions, it’s a tragedy. If you recall, this was the case that originally lost on a Motion to Dismiss at the trial court, was appealed to the 11th Circuit, won on appeal and was remanded back to the same trial court, where it lost again. The ACLU lawyers are talking today about options and whether to, once again, appeal to the 11th Circuit. We will let you know what decisions are made.
In Legislative News, the US Senate passed the First Step Act, 87-12 and it’s now headed to the House and expected to pass. President Trump already indicated that he will sign the bill if it does. The Act (which is an acronym for ‘Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act’) will reform the federal prison system by slightly relaxing mandatory minimum sentences by giving judges more discretion, relaxing the “three strikes” law to give 25 years instead of life in prison. It makes the 2010 crack sentencing reforms retroactive. It expands “good time credits” that offers earlier release for inmates with good behavior. And It creates “earned time credits” that encourage inmates to take part in rehabilitative programs in exchange for early release, more halfway house or house arrest time.
The changes are quite modest, only impact Federal inmates and benefit the presently incarcerated – not people who’ve already done their time. That said; the significance of the Act is not that it will drastically reform our nation’s broken prison system, but that it’s an indication that politicians are beginning to recognize that it is, in fact, broken. As the name suggests, it’s a “First Step” in what will hopefully become a second and third step to follow. The other significance is that the bill received strong bipartisan support from the Senate. A 87 to 12 vote is not even close. An indication of how strongly our legislators feel about criminal justice reform. As Senator Corey Booker (NY) said, “for the first time in a long time, with the passage of this bill into law, our country will make a meaningful break from the decades of failed policies that led to mass incarceration, which has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, drained our economy, compromised public safety, hurt our children and disproportionately harmed communities of color while devaluing the very idea of justice in America.” That recognition is something to get excited about when considering other failed policies that drain our economy, compromise public safety and hurt our children!
Finally, this weekly update will be the last update before the Christmas Holiday. For those who celebrate, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday. For those who are fortunate enough to celebrate with family and loved ones, please take a moment to think about those who cannot and consider making a donation to FAC in the hope that we can make all of our lives better in the years to come. For those of you whose holidays will be less than special, you are in our thoughts and please keep in mind that we continue to do all we can within our means to fight the good fight to end these draconian laws.
The Florida Action Committee
**NOTE: We know the holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. NARSOL, the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (of which we are the Florida Affiliate) is operating a helpline during the Christmas holiday. Several FAC members have stepped up and volunteered their time during the holidays to help man the phones. If you’re feeling down – please reach out. Lines will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. eastern time on both December 24 and December 25. The number to call is 888-997-7765, extension 2. There are three volunteers working the phones each shift. If you can’t get through, keep in mind there are plenty of people who feel like you do and try again.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Sen. Lauren Book filed a new bill on Monday (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/160/BillText/Filed/PDF) that would criminalize “knowingly selling, lending, giving away, distributing, transmitting, showing, or transmuting; offering to commit such actions;…
The Dobbs Wire has produced a new chart with the latest sex offense registry statistics for every state and Washington DC, along with figures from 2017. One key indicator continues to increase — the total number on blacklists is now 912,643. That’s a 4.8% climb in…
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court clarified a case we’ve written about extensively and which might offer relief for some of our members. Two years ago, the court ruled you could not get “dual convictions” for effectively the same course of conduct. Last week the…
As if it wasn’t bad enough that people convicted of Murder or a Sex Offense were excluded from Amendment 4, which restored former felon’s rights to vote upon completion of their sentence, Governor Elect Ron Desantis wants to stop registrants from voting entirely, even…