Dear Members and Advocates,
The Jeffrey Epstein saga raises a concern about plea deals. According to last week’s Order from his bond hearing, “[F]rom at least in or about 2002, up to and including at least in or about 2005” Epstein did some very bad things. “In the fall of 2007, [he] entered into a non-prosecution agreement” with the federal government in exchange for pleading guilty in Palm Beach County. Now he’s being prosecuted by the same US government in a different federal district under the premise that his deal applied in the Southern District of Florida, but not the Southern District of New York.
I think that we can all agree that if Jeffrey Epstein continued committing sex offenses after his 2007 conviction, all bets are off and he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for any new crimes. But if he’s now being re-prosecuted for the same course of conduct that was already covered by his 2007 agreement, is that fair? I think we can all agree that it’s not.
Imagine a more likely example… Federal CP convictions become “Federal” in most cases because they involve “interstate commerce” (ie: an image downloaded in Florida from a file-server in Texas). Now assume you took a plea in Florida in exchange for the government dropping one of the counts, you do your time, and a decade later a federal prosecutor in Texas decides the plea deal made in Florida was too lenient and now wants to charge you for the dropped count. That would be unconscionable, right?
Regardless of the reasons why he got the “sweetheart deal” in 2007, Epstein and the government made that deal and if he committed no new crimes since then, a deal should be a deal. Or is it? On top of the NY prosecution, A federal judge in West Palm Beach is now considering whether to strike down parts of the Florida deal, which on its face could be a very concerning proposition for anyone who has accepted a plea deal from the government as an inducement for pleading guilty and not going to trial.
If you’re considering what is going on with Epstein and not concerned, thinking he’s only impacted because his case is high profile and this will never happen to you, think for a minute about the state of the registry when you took your plea. Were there residency restrictions in place? Did you have to register your family’s vehicles? Could you travel for three days without a trip to the DHSMV and the Sheriff? And what new restriction or requirement will be implemented next year?
Still not concerned because you think it’s unlikely that a deal made years ago can somehow land you back in prison? Yesterday’s The Appeal, tells the stories of people recently released from incarceration by the First Step Act, who prosecutors are now trying to put back in jail. Not because of new crimes, but because of their old offenses. “Federal prosecutors have fought over 80 petitions for reduced sentences and are threatening to put more than a dozen people already released back behind bars” the article explains.
Even though the Epstein case may seem so atypical, it is still important to follow.
To end on a positive note, since our last update on removal petitions, two more persons required to register have had their obligations to register terminated under 943.0435(11). If you’ve been removed from all sanctions relating to your criminal offense for more than 20 years and have not been arrested during that time, contact [email protected] to learn more.
The Florida Action Committee
Aug 1- Next Monthly Membership Call at 8pm ET. Updates from FAC President. Dial 319-527-3487 to participate.
Aug 8- Next New Member Orientation Call at 8pm ET. Dial 319-527-3487 to participate.
Aug 15- Meet and Greet in Tallahassee at 6pm.
Aug 17-Meet and Greet in Pensacola at 2pm.
Aug 23- Family Support Session in Hillsborough County at 7pm. Family/loved ones only.
Aug 24-Meet and Greet in Orange County 11am-1pm followed by a viewing of “Untouchable” from 1-3pm. Welcome to attend one or both sessions.
Sep 7- Family Support Session in Central Broward County (flyer) from 11am-1pm. Family/loved ones only.
For more information about these events, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
The Daily Beast featured a column titled “A Tale of Two Jeffreys”, describing the remarkably different experiences of Jeffrey Epstein from Jeffrey Cole. While both are named Jeffrey and both are labeled “sex offenders”, that’s where the similarities end. We don’t need…
When it comes to large, overlapping exclusion zones and limited housing availability for persons required to register as sex offenders, an inch is as good (or bad) as a mile. In most Jurisdictions, the measurement of an exclusion zone begins at the closest property…
Twenty-five people listed on the state’s lifelong sex offender registry are suing to have their names removed, arguing that it is unconstitutionally cruel. The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the plaintiffs include a woman barred by her church from a marathon to…
I participated once again in the SMART symposium. This is an information only presentation intended for law enforcement agencies including the federal Marshall service and local law enforcement agencies around the country to be brought up to date on SORNA. As I…