Dear Members and Advocates,

Happy New Year!

2019 promises to be an exciting year for sex offender reform advocacy. Two lawsuits we have spearheaded are in litigation; the “Ex Post Facto Plus” suit and the “In Person” challenge. A third, challenging registration of out of state individuals, will hopefully be filed in the coming months. In the Ex Post Facto suit, on December 26th attorneys for the Does filed their answers to the State’s motion to dismiss and copies of their filings can be read here. On December 28th, the State was served in the In Person challenge. It will be a busy year for the attorneys in both cases, along with several others which have been filed challenging sex offender registration requirements, both in Florida and in other states. A greater number of cases are making their way to the Supreme Court of the United States and we are hopeful the Court picks the right one to hear.

Last week, the Office of Programs, Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) issued their review of the Florida sex offender registration and monitoring program. OPPAGA is a State organization that “supports the Florida Legislature by providing data, evaluative research, and objective analyses that assist legislative budget and policy deliberations.” In other words, it’s the agency that’s supposed to be telling the people in Tallahassee whether the money they are spending is being spent productively or not.

One highlight from their report is that residency restrictions don’t work and may even be counter-productive. They basically spelled that out to the legislators in simple terms that, “research  has  shown  no  significant decreases  in  sex  crime  rates  following  the  implementation  of  residence  restrictions.   However, residence  restrictions  do affect offenders  who  have  to  move  or  have  limited  housing  options, particularly in urban areas. This combination can lead to an increase in homelessness, loss of family. support, and financial hardship, which are all known to be destabilizing factors. Offenders who lack stability are more likely to reoffend.”

Another highlight from the OPPAGA report is something we’ve been pointing out for a long time, “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sex offender registry listed more than 73,000 offenders and predators; most offenders did not reside in Florida communities.” Less than half the people on the registry are actually in the community. What’s the point in listing the others if there’s no public safety benefit? This would be the focus of our “Out of State” challenge, unfortunately the beneficiaries of that challenge would be those who live out of state – the majority of our members would not benefit. Hence it’s been challenging raising funds for this suit.

The report significantly helps our cause more than it hurts it. Especially when it comes to disproving the effectiveness of one of the biggest challenges when it comes to living on the registry; residency restrictions. Hopefully it’s a tool we will be able to use when advocating to the legislators. What the report notably fails to address is the one question they are supposed to be answering: does the registry work? I think we all know why they avoided broaching that issue… because it doesn’t work and everyone knows it.

Please join us for tomorrow night’s Monthly Member Conference Call, where our guest will be Shelley Kavanagh, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently working at the Centre for Offender Rehabilitation Education (CORE).  Shelley is studying the effects the Sex Offender Residency Requirements (SORR) have on families of registrants. She is also working on programs that aim to provide support and appropriately identify the specific needs families, and loved ones of registrants, may require. This is a call you should invite your families and loved ones to attend, as the collateral consequences the registry has on innocent family members is a topic that can no longer be ignored.

Finally, In the coming weeks, you will be receiving a letter from our President, Gail, highlighting some of our accomplishments during 2018 and goals for 2019. Included with that letter will be an invoice for your 2019 annual membership dues. We can’t stress how important it is to send in your dues quickly. Our ability to do the work we do and achieve our goals for the coming year will be entirely dependent on our ability to meet our budget. The $60 annual dues come out to sixteen cents a day and we assure you that every penny makes a difference! It’s a small amount that will make a huge difference in your life or the life of someone you love.

Let’s make 2019 the best year ever!


The Florida Action Committee



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