Dear Members and Advocates,
This week a “fire” erupted and we saw an example of why it is so important we stay organized and able to mobilize quickly. Brevard County is seeking to amend their proximity ordinance to allow private businesses to register themselves as “child oriented”, thereby establishing itself as a landmark around which a 1000 foot proximity ordinance will be created. In other words, persons required to register will not be able to go within 1000 feet of these businesses, including any other residence or business located within that 1000 foot exclusion zone.
Brevard already has a proximity ordinance around schools, parks and playgrounds, but this new proposed amendment would expand that to private businesses where children congregate. Under Brevard’s current ordinance it’s difficult to find a place to dine out, shop, get a haircut or be present that’s not already within an exclusion zone. This new amendment will only make it worse.
Thankfully we learned of the proposal in advance of it’s introduction before the Commission and we had the opportunity to send a letter in opposition (putting it on the record) and know that several of our members did the same. As it advances through the legislative process, it is critical that we organize and show up to future meetings at which this legislation will be considered. If nobody shows up to oppose it, it will pass. If we show up, armed with facts, research and showing opposition, we have a good chance of preventing it from passing. It’s up to us. We need to write in and we need to show up!
Some of you might be reading this and wondering why, if you don’t live in Brevard, this would concern you. It does. More than 17 years ago when the City of Miami Beach enacted the first residency restriction, the City of Miami then enacted their own restriction to avoid a perceived influx of registrants from Miami Beach. Like a fast metastasizing cancer, residency restrictions began spreading throughout the country as each municipality raced to enact a harsher restriction than their neighbor so they would not become a dumping ground. Allowing this to pass in one county will create a domino effect that will inevitably reach your county. If we don’t stick up for our members in Brevard, how can we expect anyone to stick up for us when our lives are impacted?
At this point, what we are asking our members to do is to reach out to the Brevard County Commissioners and voice your opposition to the proposed amendment to the “sex offender exclusion zone”. A copy of our Call to Action can be found here. The letters we have written as an organization can be found here and here. When details of the next meeting at which the proposed legislation will be discussed are announced, we will share that information on our site or in an email and ask that you please show up and speak out.
The situation in Brevard brings to light another sad and unfortunate reality we face. There are A LOT of issues that registrants face. We have restrictions and requirements at the federal level, we have restrictions and requirements under state statutes and we have restrictions and requirements under municipal ordinances. If we bring a challenge to a federal law (such as International Megan’s Law) it will benefit every registrant in the US. If we bring a challenge to a Florida law (such as in-person registration or the 3-day “residency” definition) it benefits every registrant in the state of Florida. If we bring a challenge to a municipal ordinance (such as this Brevard ordinance) it will have a direct impact on those living in that municipality, but… it won’t necessarily benefit those in other municipalities.
Which brings us to the dilemma we face as a board. We have a finite amount of resources, both human and capital. With a limited amount of money in our general legal budget, do we apply it to the Brevard proximity ordinance, the posted signs in front of houses in Bradford, counties that won’t let parents into their children’s schools, the Halloween ordinance in Duval, or a county that charges a fee for registering? All of these are very important issues and all have disturbing consequences. How can we, as an organization, make the “Sophie’s choice” of pursuing one challenge over another?
Since we are the Florida Action Committee, our Legal Committee has always tried to focus on challenges that have the broadest impact on Florida registrants. Even though we might initiate a challenge to residency restrictions in Miami-Dade, most (if not all) counties in Florida have a residency restriction and would benefit from a win there. It’s just that Miami-Dade’s is the most notorious (think Julia Tuttle Causeway) and offensive (more than 25% of the registrants in that county are homeless) and where the attorneys that agreed to pick up the challenge (the ACLU) happen to be located, which is why it was filed in Miami-Dade.
On a daily basis we receive so many calls, emails and referrals with heartbreaking personal stories. All are important to us but we don’t have the money or manpower to help everyone. The global solution would be for the registry to be abolished, but until that happens we need to chip away at it by going after the lowest hanging fruit. Deciding what that “lowest hanging fruit” is has been an emotional burden.
Unfortunately, Covid hasn’t afforded us the opportunity to do in-person meet and greets but that does not mean the local momentum needs to be put on hold. Over the coming months, we are calling on all of you to strengthen your local network. Find out who your FAC county or regional coordinators are and connect with them (you can contact [email protected] to find out). If you don’t have a county or regional coordinator, consider becoming one. Just think… there are 800 registrants in Brevard. If we could engage all of them to pool resources (even $20 a person) to fight the ordinance, we would be in really good shape to mount a challenge. We only wish it were that easy. We first need to bring in those 800 and that involves a grassroots effort.
The good news is that FAC is a member-run organization and we all have a voice. We are also asking you to write in or call to let us know which issues (other than the challenges listed on our site) you would want us to take on. It’s your member dues and donations that drive this organization and enables us to fight the registry, so let your voice be heard!
The Florida Action Committee
BREVARD Strategic Planning Meeting – Monday July 27th at 7pm ET. Dial 319-527-3487. We will introduce your key volunteers and coordinators in Brevard County. We will cover the information received to date, and identify what other information is needed to support the registered citizens and their families in Brevard. What we need from you are volunteers, resources, and commitment. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487 to receive a call-back and be connected to the conference.
Tuesday July 28 2:00 pm ET. There are 3 weeks left in the FAMM and Florida Cares Summer Camp taught by Greg and Denise each Tuesday through August 11th aimed at teaching families and directly impacted folks about the legislative process, bills, candidates and about criminal justice reform in Florida so that everyone can be make the most educated and informed decisions in 2020 regarding their incarcerated loved one and advocate for them in the best way possible. IMPORTANT: You must register for each class and classes are limited so sign up TODAY! ⇢ Link to register for the FAMM & Florida Cares Summer Camp Classes After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Thursday Aug 6 at 8pm ET- FAC Monthly Member Call. Dial 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the conference. Guest Lisa Anne Zilney, PhD. She will present on her most recent research with male and female registrants, and discuss her latest book Impacts of Sex Crime Laws on the Female Partners of Convicted Offenders: Never Free of Collateral Consequences
Saturday Aug 8 from 11am-1pm ET. Family Support Session via Zoom (non-registrants only – intended for family members and others with loved ones on the Registry. Must be FAC member and RSVP to [email protected] to receive Zoom link.
Thursday Aug 13 at 8pm ET- FAC New Member Orientation Call. Dial 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the conference.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division claims they uphold the Constitutional rights of all people in the United States (note the emphasis on “all” was theirs, not ours). Let’s see if that’s true! Today, in the United States, there are almost one million…
At least four Central American immigrant children reported being sexually abused by staff members at the privately run Homestead detention center for unaccompanied minors, the Miami Herald reports. No one went to prison for these alleged crimes. No one was prosecuted….
Union officials at Federal Correctional Complex Coleman and Federal Correctional Institution Miami sounded the alarm on just how bad the conditions are inside the facilities. Kareen Troitino, the FCI Miami corrections officer union president, told ABC News that the…
Not that it matters to our population, since Amendment 4 discriminates against people with past convictions for sexual offenses, but today the Supreme Court declined to intervene in a ping pong match between the Florida Governor and tens of thousands of…