Dear Members and Advocates,

This past Monday, the Florida Action Committee hosted the first of what we hope will be many public events. Our event was called “A Courageous Conversation About Sex Offenders In Our Communities” and that is precisely what we were looking to give the attendees. Those who were there included university professors, reentry specialists, members of law enforcement, a candidate for county sheriff, municipal legislators and most importantly the general public. The event was held at the Savor Cinema in downtown Ft. Lauderdale and included a screening of David Feige’s documentary film, “Untouchable”, followed by a Panel discussion and question and answer period.

We received a lot of positive feedback on the event and took away from it several ideas on how we can make future events better. The ultimate goal of educating the public was met. Several who left the theater indicated that it really opened their eyes or caused them to see the issue from a perspective they hadn’t previously thought about. Whether we were coming at the topic from the same point of view or from opposite sides, the event was necessary because it brought people together to open a dialogue on a topic that can no longer be ignored. As our State (and our Country) keeps adding thousands to this registry each year, without any attrition or distinction as to risk, it is quickly approaching a point where it becomes unmanageable and counter-productive. That does not make anyone safer.

As part of our education initiative, we will be looking to emulate the event in other parts of the State. If you would like to help organize an event or would like to share ideas on how we can reach a large audience, please contact [email protected]. Please remember, we are not looking for like minded people. It will do nothing to preach to the choir. We welcome the opportunity to engage with people who come at this issue from all angles. That is the only way we can acknowledge and address concerns, become more educated and, in turn, educate others.

Looking ahead, this coming weekend South Florida will be hosting the SuperBowl. In anticipation, Florida’s Attorney General has been setting in place the same fear mongering about sex crime that usually precedes Halloween. Specialized task forces are being mobilized, additional law enforcement will be targeting “human traffickers”, and hotel workers, ride-share drivers and security personnel are being trained to report suspicious activity. While all this seems noble and unquestionably human trafficking is something that needs to be eradicated, is there a justification for the panic?

Apparently not. One of the leading anti-trafficking groups; Polaris Project called this phenomenon a myth. Studies from them and the International Human Trafficking Institute concluded there is no evidence supporting the claim that there is a correlation between the SuperBowl and human trafficking. Caroline Diemar, the director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline told Fox News “We actually haven’t seen a significant increase in reports to the National Human Trafficking Hotline around the Super Bowl or really any other large event.”

At the end of the day, increased awareness of human trafficking and sexual abuse can be a very a good thing. However, it’s important that we move away from fear mongering and knee-jerk, punitive, legislation – that only incites the public and creates a false sense of security to those who believe measures such as a “John registry” or a “sex offender registry” actually do something to make the public safer. Instead, we need to focus resources on efforts that are based on empirical evidence and scientifically proven to work.

That is the best way to make our public safer!

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee


Reminders:

Amazon Smile – select (FAC Outreach Partner “Justice Transitions, Sanford FL” as your charity.  Make purchases using https://smile.amazon.com in order to be certain that Justice Transitions (and FAC members) benefit from your purchases.

Sat Feb 1st.  Free therapist-led Family Support session (no registrants) meets from 11am-1pm in Central Broward.

Wed Feb 12 and Feb 26 – Free Registrant Peer Support group (no therapist) meets in Pinellas Park area at 5:30 pm.

Thu Feb 20th – Local Meet-and-Greet in Lakeland (Polk County).

Seating is limited for all events. For more information, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322.  No children please.


SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK

 

TN: Bill would allow sex offenders to attend church with permission

Can anyone tell me why this is even a thing? Isn’t spiritual growth and repentance something society would want from someone who has sexually offended? To make that and the exercise of one’s religious beliefs more of a challenge to persons on the registry, a bill…

Attorney Val Jonas is the Recipient of the Jeanne Baker Humanitarian Award

Civil Rights Attorney Valerie Jonas is last year’s recipient of the Jeanne Baker Humanitarian Award. She received her award last night before an audience at the Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale, the city in which she had sex offender residency restrictions declared…

In A Florida County, Sex Workers Are Ensnared In ‘Trafficking’ Raids

On Nov. 18, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister held a press conference to announce the results of Operation Trade Secrets II, a six-month sting that purported to target human traffickers. Flanked on one side by a placard of mugshots and on the other by a…

Member Submission: When Probation imposes their own rules.

XXXXX is a registered citizen and was told by his probation officer that if he wanted to own a business in his name, that his probation office would notify all of his clients that he was on the registry, and that XXXXX would be required to provide a weekly itinerary…

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