Dear Members and Advocates,

On Sunday we watched the New England Patriots beat the LA Rams in Superbowl 53. For reasons having nothing to do with football or an affinity for New England, I was rooting for the Patriots. My reason was purely for criminal justice reform. The Patriot’s Owner, Robert Kraft, is among a group of sports figures and entertainers who formed the Reform Alliance, an organization that will lobby for changes to state probation and parole laws. Joined by celebrities such as Jay-Z, who saw friends circling through the revolving door of jail because of technical probation violations and rapper Meek Mill, who himself spent years in prison for minor probation violations stemming from a decades-old offense.  Kraft and others raised 50 million dollars to help end the cycle. Last month he was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The current system is not good for America… We can make America better if we really cure this problem.”

His comments are indicative of a growing recognition among influential people that our criminal justice system is a “problem” that much like an epidemic, needs to be “cured”. His actions are a positive indication that something might finally be done about it. Earlier this year, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner spearheaded the First Step Act and Florida Senator Jeff Brandes introduced Senate Bill 642, which is this state’s criminal justice reform initiative.

The problem with many (not all, but many) reform initiatives is that they exclude our population. Like the reasoning behind Amendment 4’s exclusion, people think that “first steps” toward reform will be more palatable to take if they exclude those which the public perceives as most unsavory. That is why it is so important to educate the public on two critical points. First, not all people who carry the label “sex offender” are homogenous. Second, persons required to register have among the lowest rates of recidivism of any offense. These two points are common knowledge among our advocacy circles, but not among the general public. We need to help change that.

One way you can help our cause is to post comments in response to online news articles on topics relating to criminal justice issues. If you feel you don’t have enough ammunition to make these comments, you must tune in to our monthly member call this Thursday at 8PM, when our guest will be Emily Horowitz. Professor Horowitz will be highlighting some of the latest research on the registry and educating us, so that we, in turn, can educate others. Please set your reminders to join us on Thursday!

Finally, a cautionary reminder to avoid falling for the scam that is being run across the country. This past week, police departments in Florida, Texas and other states are issuing warnings about scammers using the sex offender registry to target victims of their scam. They call persons required to register, then pretending to be police detectives they notify the victims that there is an arrest warrant out and to clear it, they need to make a payment. Some are as brazen as telling the targets to show up at the police station with cash! The scams are quite sophisticated and they even spoof telephone numbers and use real detective’s names. If you receive one of these calls – remember that police will not call you in advance to tell you they have a warrant, they will never ask for payment to “clear things up” and if you ever suspect that you might be targeted because you are on the registry, let us know about it so that we can look into it for you and warn others.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee

 

SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK

 

Why are they still talking about sex offenders on social media?

Several news stations have run stories about persons required to register as sex offenders being on social media. In light of Packingham v. North Carolina (the Supreme Court of the United States case that found a law making it a felony for a registered sex offender…

Legislators getting clued in on sex offender BS

Arkansas Senator Trent Garner and Representative Rebecca Petty tried to pass a Halloween bill that would prohibit certain persons required to register from distributing candy on Halloween, dressing in costume, etc. A violation would be a Class D felony, punishable by…

Former Florida DCF spokesman Thomas Barnes sentenced for child porn

The former district spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families (yes, the same DCF that Sen. Lauren Book wants to train every law enforcement officer on Human Trafficking and that runs our State’s Civil Commitment Center) was sentenced to 2 years in…

SURVEY REGISTRANT RESPONSES ARE NEEDED: Economic Impact of the Sex Offender Registry

Our names are Dr. Jennifer Klein and Dr. Danielle Bailey and we are both Assistant Professors at the University of Texas at Tyler. As you know, we have been collecting data for a project that analyzes the economic impact of the sex offender registry on those…

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