Dear Members and Advocates,
“In the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2011, Scott covered his recliner in plastic and carefully leaned plywood against the backrest. He covered his head with a tarp, grabbed a rusty shotgun, and put the barrel under his chin. He pulled the trigger.” His mother, Linda, later explained to the local paper that her son didn’t want to leave a mess for the landlord. She also wanted readers to know that not everyone on the registry is a bad person. She made no excuses for her son’s crime and was not angry at the judicial system for punishing him. She simply wanted others to understand the crushing social stigma her son experienced as a convicted sex offender.
Linda’s son had already served his prison time. The hardest part of his sentence was supposed to be over, but it wasn’t. The punishment wasn’t over for Linda either. What many fail to realize is being labeled a “sex offender” is, in many cases, more punishing than being in prison. It’s social death. Registrants are at a significantly higher risk of suicide than members of the general population, but also compared to other former felons. A 2017 study by Johns Hopkins analyzed the rates in children on the registry and found that children who were legally required to register as sex offenders had higher rates of suicide than children who also engaged in harmful or illegal sexual behavior but who were not required to register. In fact, four times as likely.
This weekly update is not intended to depress you, but to offer you hope. We are here for you and we are fighting to change things. Those who joined us on our last member call and met with us last month in person know that we are beginning to focus on family, friends and loved ones. We need to support those who support us. They are also innocent victims. We want the members of our support system to become more involved as activists. As registrants, we might not make the most sympathetic advocates, but when our parents, children, neighbors, friends, employers and others in the community speak about the impact on their lives that the registry has caused, people will listen with a sympathetic ear.
If you do nothing else for the cause, this week, ask two members of your support system to join FAC. Not only will our cause benefit from the $5 a month dues, but they will receive our weekly updates, calls to action, join our member calls, attend our meet and greets and arm themselves with the tools they need to help you reintegrate and help reform Florida’s insane laws. Our membership form can be found here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/become-a-member/.
Shifting gears… On the legislative front, absent extension, May 3rd will be the sixtieth and last day of the 2019, Florida Legislature’s Regular Session. That gives us less than one month to contact our Senators and Representatives to let them know what we think of the pending bills.
A new change to the bills we are watching is House Bill 27 which is sponsored by Representative Ingoglia. The bill concerns bonding for the owner or operator of a talent agency and would amend Florida Statute 468.408 to prohibit bonds from being issued or renewed by a bonding agency to an owner or operator of a talent agency unless the bonding agency verifies that each owner or operator has not been convicted of specified crimes. What are the “specified crimes” you ask? You guessed it… sex offenses. So someone who has been legally operating for years, decades after an offense is at risk of not having their bond renewed and being effectively put out of business.
While this may only impact a small handful of those in the industry, the general concept of prohibiting registrants from renewing their professional bonds or licenses is a very scary thought. Someone who is thriving, earning a professional designation and living a law-abiding life (all things we would want of ex-offenders), is at risk of losing their career instantly! It’s something we need to advocate against.
-For a table and summary of some of the bills that might impact persons required to register, you can visit: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/2019-legislation/.
-For a directory where you can find your legislator, search here: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
In summary, don’t despair – get to work. We have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of resources. If you are reading this email, you are one of our resources. We are counting on you to do your part!
The Florida Action Committee
Reminder: New Member Orientation call Thu April 11 at 8pm. Dial 319-527-3487. Call in to learn more about the organization and volunteer opportunities, or just to share information. Everyone is Welcome.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
Under the Florida Office of Executive Clemency, an ex-offender who has “completed all sentences imposed and all conditions of supervision have expired or been completed, for a period of no less than 8 years” may apply for authority to own, possess or use a firearm. In…
The Fort Meyers, FL Police Department is facing a lawsuit, as two people arrested by them fight back against misconduct involving their arrests. The two are among two dozen who recently had charges against them dropped after the department got caught using using a…
On Friday, in Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, ruled that charging a criminal defendant with separate counts for each image did not violate the constitutional prohibition of being “twice put in jeopardy” for “the same offense.” In Taylor v. State the…
LA: After admitting sex with 3 boys, substitute teacher spared jail and barred from class only two years
There is something wrong with the justice system when a female teacher gets probation and is only barred from teaching for two years. Had the teacher been male, I’ll bet he would have gotten 20 years for each victim. Below is the story from USA Today: After pleading…