Dear Members and Advocates,
You probably noticed there wasn’t a weekly update last week. That was because the election was consuming the world’s attention and the news media had plenty of content to keep their readers engaged. There may have been very few “stings”, “operations” or “crackdowns” to report on, but behind the scenes there was still plenty going on in the FAC world. Our population is in the midst of the Ex Post Facto Plus challenge and if you’re hungry for an update far more insightful than this email, take a few minutes to read the Reply to the FDLE’s Response to a Motion in that case.
The big news this week is that we know (or probably know) who our next president will be. With a new administration coming in, it remains to be seen what, how and if anything changes for our population, or whether the changes will be for the better or for the worse. Relying on the President Elect’s published statements on criminal justice; “We can and must reduce the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime.”, “Making sure formerly incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to be productive members of our society is not only the right thing to do, it will also grow our economy.” and “ No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system.”, there is reason for optimism if he holds true to his campaign promises. He has already admitted that the war on drugs has been a tremendous failure, so similar “wars” on other crimes should apply lessons from that failure, not seek to replicate it. Public registration creates HUGE barriers for reintegration by causing housing and employment instability. Registration, therefore, undermines this recognition that returning citizens must have the opportunity to return as productive members of society. And the private prison industry, which profits on reincarceration and has reinvested that profit heavily into funding politicians to influence harsher criminal penalties in order to keep the cash machine going, has got to go. Florida’s Civil Commitment Center, which is run by a private company paid by the government, having the ability to confine people indefinitely beyond their sentence at their own whim, and for a profit, is a human rights failure.
On the state level, unlike the last major election when Amendment 4 passed, there were no significant ballot measures impacting the registrant population this round. One item, Amendment 2, indirectly has a positive impact on many of us. That Amendment raised the minimum wage in Florida to $15 by 2026. Since it’s hard for someone on the registry to find a job, let alone one that pays above minimum wage, the fact that the minimum wage will be increasing, should be positive news. Additionally, several Senate and House positions will change, so if you regularly contact state legislators about registration or other issues you want them to take action on, be sure to update your contact list once the new terms begin. Contact information will be available on the FAC website.
In Florida courts last week, two decisions came out that offer some useful guidance for those who are justice impacted. In the 1st District Court of Appeal, a family law case (Weston v. Weston) reinforced an incarcerated litigant’s right to appear personally (even if by telephone). In this divorce and custody case, an individual incarcerated for a sexual offense appealed the decision in a hearing that took place in his absence. Unfortunately, many of us had or will have to go through a divorce or custody battle while incarcerated. If an adverse decision was rendered in a hearing or trial where you didn’t have an opportunity to present your case, or if you know someone going through a divorce while they are in custody, please make sure they are aware of this right. Another 1st DCA case, (Kelsey v. Florida) reminded us that a trial court cannot rule that early termination of probation is prohibited. This has been well established for years. A “a trial judge is not authorized to divest the Department of Corrections of its authority to recommend early termination of probation. S. 948.04(3), Fla. Stat. (1991). Moreover, a trial judge is not empowered to prevent the circuit court in the future from exercising its authority to discharge a probationer. S. 948.05, Fla. Stat. (1991).” (Arriaga v. State, 666 So. 2d 949 (Fla 4th DCA 1996)). So if your sentencing judge pronounced that you are ineligible to seek early termination of your probation and you’ve been sitting on the sidelines thinking you’re stuck… you’re not.
Sadly, this past week we lost Attorney Patrick Trese. He collapsed during a Zoom hearing to get his client early termination of probation and succumbed to what was determined to be a heart attack. After coming over from the dark side (being a prosecutor), Pat had spent the last 10 years in criminal defense. For those who don’t recall the significant contribution Pat made to our cause, I’ll refer you to this post from March of 2018. It was one of my favorite posts of more than 3,200 written on the FAC website. Pat was only 50 years old. A reminder to all of us that we shouldn’t take life for granted and we should do everything possible, every day, to get rid of this registry and make a better life for ourselves and our loved ones.
The Florida Action Committee
Nov 12 Thursday at 8:00pm ET New Member Orientation Call. Dial 319-527-3487. Learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities. All members are welcome to call. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.
Support Sessions – RSVP for details to [email protected] or text name and event (Fearless or Family) to 904-452-8322.
Nov 19 – Thursday – New Fearless Group is starting – evening time is tbd (registered citizens support).
Nov 21 – Saturday – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.- Zoom session for family and loved ones only (no registered citizens)
Regional Conference Calls at 8:00pm ET / 7pm CT – phone 319-527-3487 – Discuss issues and action needs in your county. Learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities in your area or sign up for County Coordinator training. All members are welcome to call. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.
Nov 16 Monday for Region 3 – Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty and Franklin counties.
Nov 19 Thursday for Region 5 – Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Lake, Sumter, Marion, Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties.
Nov 23 Monday for Region 8 –Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Collier counties.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
The City of Irvine, California is being sued by Janice Bellucci (ACSOL) on behalf of two persons required to register who want to take their own children to a park. According to this article, Irvine’s municipal code requires people on the registry who were convicted…
A Seventh Circuit panel heard arguments Friday over whether a Wisconsin law barring convicted sex offenders from changing their name amounts to free speech infringement. The underlying lawsuit was brought in Milwaukee federal court in May 2019 by Karen Krebs, a…
One year ago, we published a post called Texas law firm does HUGE disservice to registrants. Teri Estes-Hightower, a Texas lawyer, saw registrants as a business opportunity. She used their state’s public registry as a marketing list to solicit clients at $5,000 +/- a…
The Oklahoma City Police Department pulled off a social media coup on July 7. “Meet the top 10 most wanted individuals being sought by our Sex Offender Registration Unit,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “It’s important we keep tabs on these guys (and…