Dear Members and Advocates,
Occasionally, I ask you to put yourself into the shoes of someone else. Imagine yourself one of the 100+ registrants who are currently living transient in a Miami-Dade homeless encampment because residence restrictions leave you nowhere to live. Imagine you are one of the 30+ registrants who are being held in a Highlands County jail after a recent registration round-up for failure to report things they didn’t know they were supposed to (or as will hopefully come out) things they were not required to. Imagine yourself the family member of a registrant, having to live in perpetual fear of having your house egged, tires slashed or getting shot because you live with someone on the registry.
This week, in solidarity with the “clients” held at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at Moose Lake who are entering the second week of a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite confinement, I ask you to think of them. Minnesota is one of 20 states with Civil Commitment statutes, which allow the state to involuntarily confine people required to register as sex offenders beyond their sentence. Seven Hundred Forty (if 740 sounds like a high number, Florida is higher) individuals are confined at Moose Lake and in the twenty-seven years that the program has existed only 13 have been unconditionally released, during that same time more than 86 people died there.
Imagine what it must be like to fully serve the court-ordered sentence for your crime, only to discover that you won’t be going home to your family, but you will instead be going “someplace else”. It’s not a prison, but you are confined in a facility surrounded by a barbed wire fence… oh and you can’t leave. You are just held there indefinitely and have a far greater likelihood of dying there than ever getting out. Can you imagine the desperation? After years of fighting and getting nowhere, the “clients” have had enough. As one told the Minnesota Star Tribune, “Everything else has been tried.” And as another said; “I’m ready to die. I truthfully don’t see a way out of here.”
If human beings are willing to risk their lives to draw attention to a tragic injustice, lets consider what we can do to help drive some attention towards their effort. Civil Commitment programs, where people are involuntarily confined not because of what they did (they already served that sentence) but for what they might do, have no place in a civilized society. At the bare minimum, offer these people a road map to complete their “treatment” and earn their release. Like other aspects of registration, this practice needs to end.
In some good news from this week, we got a preview of what’s to come in the Ex Post Facto Plus Challenge. When we last left off, the court had dismissed the complaint, not over the merits of the arguments, but over a technicality. The technicality was the ‘statute of limitations’. There exists a statute of limitations which requires a Plaintiff bring an action within 4 years of the cause of action. Courts have gone either way, some accepting that the registry is a “continuing violation” in that every day one is subject to it, constitutes another constitutional violation. Unfortunately, within a month or two before the case was dismissed, a ruling out of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals created some unfavorable precedent that tied the hands of the District Court Judge. Since the Plaintiffs were all added to the registry longer than 4 years ago, the State successfully argued that they didn’t have standing to bring the case. … But someone who was added within the last 4 years clearly does!
So to remedy the technical infirmity, the attorneys proposed to Amend the instant complaint or, if not, alluded to the fact that new complaint would be filed and we got a preview of what the new complaint looks like. Since the arguments are practically identical and the expert witnesses are the same, things will hopefully fall into place right where they left off in moving the challenge forward. Naturally we will continue to keep you updated as anything develops, but what we do expect (since the pleading mentioned the added plaintiff has until 2/5/2020), it’s fair to expect something will be happening before the end of next week!
The Florida Action Committee
Need to Talk? FAC has peer volunteers that are here to talk one-on-one, call 904-452-8322. Volunteers are not available 24/7 but you will receive a call as soon as possible. If you have an emergency, call 911, or helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or a crisis center (Listing of Crisis Centers and Hotlines)
Two County Coordinator Training programs begin next month. Sign up for a class to receive your training package. Class A meets by phone on Sundays or Class B meets by phone on Wednesdays. Looking for members who want to be part of the Membership team for their local area. It requires 2-4 hours/week, self-motivation and a one-year commitment. No limit, you can have multiple coordinators in one County if you have a friend or family member that wants to help. We will provide the training, support, and materials that you need to succeed. If interested, contact membership at 833-273-7325 Option 1 or email [email protected] for more information.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
Author Judith Levine will join Professor Emily Horowitz for a virtual event to talk about her book “The Feminist and the Sex Offender. The event will take place via ZOOM on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 11:10 EST. To register for the Free event, go to:…
As if there was any doubt, Senate Bill 234 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/234) sailed through the Criminal Justice Committee with a vote of 8 to zero. The bill would require anyone convicted of a sex offense to register even if they have not completed…
A new document was filed in the Ex Post Facto Plus Challenge yesterday that included a proposed copy of an Amended Complaint to cure the procedural issue of the Statute of Limitations. It gives us a preview of the complaint that will move forward, whether the…
Dr. Hanson speaks about recidivism data and desistance.