Dear Members and Advocates,
We dedicate this week’s update to Alan Pollock. We don’t know Alan, he wasn’t a member, and prior to yesterday we never heard of him. He was one of us though. He was a person forced to register as a sex offender. In June of 1995 Alan was convicted in Orange County, FL for an offense that took place in 1992. Ultimately, he plead to 90 days in Jail, 24 months of community control and 27 months of probation.
Alan was arrested on the 16th of last month as he was being released from the Behavioral Health Unit of Broward General Hospital on a warrant for a probation violation. He had a failure to register – didn’t report a change of address. According to the emergency motion for release filed by the Public Defender’s office; Alan was a 64 year old male with physical and mental disabilities who was confined to a wheelchair. His motion for release cited the threat of the Coronavirus and how the risk to Alan’s health and safety caused by his continued confinement for a technical violation far outweighed any danger to the community. Unfortunately, Alan was never granted release. He died on Tuesday after contracting the Coronavirus.
We don’t know anything about Alan’s life or circumstances. He could have been a complete jerk for all we know. But I think we can all agree that the appropriate punishment for a failure to register should not be a death sentence, which is effectively what he got. Our hearts go out to his family for this tragic and unnecessary loss.
Today, Alan Pollock is a classic example of what is wrong with the Florida Sex Offender Registry and the changes we have been advocating for. The collateral consequences of being labeled a “sex offender” are enduring and harsh. Much more severe than the 90 days in Jail, 24 months of community control and 27 months of probation Alan got for the crime he committed 27 years ago. Here he was, nearly 3 decades later and he’s still dealing with the consequences of a “supposed to be non-punitive” registry. Granted he broke the laws by getting the failure to register that led to him being on probation, but did he deserve to die in jail for not reporting information people with any other conviction would not have been required to report and for so long after the original offense?
What happened to Alan illustrates another point we’ve been trying to make. The Florida Registry fails to account for people who are elderly or suffer from physical and mental health disabilities. Again, we don’t know the extent of Alan’s disabilities, but we know that he’s been ordered to undergo several psychological evaluations in both his current case and as early as 1994 in his original case. We also know that he was in a wheelchair and being released from a mental health unit at the time of his arrest. It could just be that for someone who doesn’t have the competence or physical ability to adhere to the myriad of confusing laws, it’s simply impossible to comply with the registry.
The saddest thing is that Alan’s death was completely foreseeable and preventable. It’s what we have been warning lawmakers about for years before Coronavirus. Lifetime registration for all is untenable. Period! As our registrant population continues to age, without any attrition there will be tens of thousands of “Alans” on the Florida registry and back in the criminal justice system. If we don’t do something now, we will all be an “Alan” one day!
So, please take a moment today and contact your legislators and the Media. Tell them we need to end lifetime registration, we need to make provisions for elderly and physically or mentally disabled registrants and we need to lift certain registration requirements such as IN PERSON reporting during periods of emergency. It’s too late for Alan, but do something before it’s too late for all of us.
The Florida Action Committee
Family Support Sessions, Member Workshops, and Meet-n-Greets will be conducted via Zoom and Conference calls staring next week. Details will be sent in separate emails.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
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