Dear Members and Advocates,
Yesterday, the Volusia County Sheriffs Office made a mistake. Instead of sending a text message alert (that a registrant had moved into the community) to only the people within 1000 feet of his new residence (as intended), they blasted it out to the whole county. Clearly it’s embarrassing for your immediate neighbors to get an alert, but to send the warning to the entire county that you are moving into is another level of humiliation. Talk about ‘welcome to the neighborhood’!
That was bad, but even worse is what followed. Instead of letting the faux pas die down and allowing the victim of unnecessary shaming deal with only one round of exposure, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office doubled down. They sent a follow up text, and posted a message to their Facebook and Twitter pages. Not only did they post the information about the error, but they also posted the information (including a picture) of the person they unnecessarily shamed! That story got picked up by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, ClickOrlando, and a handful of other news outlets, which also published the man’s picture and even the address he was moving into.
We’re not going to post links to the story or share the man’s name because we don’t want to create another permanent digital record showcasing his shame. We will point out that his conviction was in 2004, seventeen years ago. He’s reported to be 37 now, so at the time of the offense he would have been 19 or 20 years old. That in no way excuses his crime, but it does put what happened yesterday into a different context. How many of us have matured since we were 20? Maybe he has also? Maybe he’s spent the last 17 years staying out of trouble? Maybe he came to Florida looking for a fresh start, which now can never happen? He was punished back then, but does he deserve a whole new round of punishment nearly 20 years later and for doing nothing other than registering?
Now, when you type his name into a search engine, the first page of results are all about his 2004 conviction and a picture of a (now) 37 year old man – completely ignoring what he may have accomplished during his 20’s and 30’s. To that point, the continuing notification of one’s old crime combined with the online publication of an individual’s current picture and biographical information creates a sense that there’s a present danger, no matter how many years or decades ago their offense took place, and no matter what level of rehabilitation the person has undergone.
It’s not just one link to the FDLE website, but it’s now on social media, homefacts.com, city-data.com, bustedoffenders.com and dozens of other extortion sites. It’s not just mailing in a post card once a year, but having to go to the police station multiple times to report multiple things. It’s having your neighbors see police officers coming to your door each month for an address verification and it’s “alerts” being sent to your new neighbors to ensure you’ll receive a “warm welcome”. As was argued in the Ex Post Facto Plus case, these aggressive notifications increased the weight and number of burdens imposed on registrants, “leading to repeated police warnings to neighbors, repeated police presence at a registrant’s home, warnings to online networking websites, warnings emailed to the public, warnings to school staff and students, and a Google-indexed online registry warning to anyone who types in the registrant’s name. This aggressive notification has caused housing and employment instability, as well as stigmatization, ostracism, harassment, and vigilantism against registrants and their families.”
I feel badly for the guy. He might have deserved whatever punishment he got at the time, but he certainly does not deserve the public shaming he’s getting now or the harassment that’s about to come his way. It’s as if his punishment is getting refreshed today for something he did long ago. Actually, for all of us on the registry, it’s as if our punishment gets refreshed every time someone googles our name, or sees that red dot on the map, or asks to see our drivers’ license, or any of the other collateral punishments we have to live with each day of our lives, for the rest of our lives.
It’s why we fight.
Join the Monthly Membership call tomorrow night April 1 at 8pm ET when we will review the reporting requirements to assist members in remaining compliant. Please refer to Florida Statutes 775.21 and 943.0435 for a complete listing of registration obligations.
Florida Action Committee
Apr 1 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – Monthly Membership Call. Topic: Review of Reporting Requirement. Phone 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
Apr 8 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – New Member Orientation Call – phone 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
Apr 10 Saturday – 11:00am-1:00pm ET. Therapist-led Family Support Session via Zoom. Limited participation. Email [email protected] or leave message at 833-273-7325 Option 1 for access to the Monthly group session.
Apr 12 Monday – 7:00 pm ET – Fearless Group – Peer-led support group. Phone 727-731-2927. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
New Research Studies – Voluntary Participation.
- Dr Jill Levenson is conducting an anonymous survey about Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) for people required to register and their family members. For more information about the study and how to access the survey, click here.
- Shelley Kavanagh (Doctorial Candidate) is conducting one-on-one phone interviews with mothers of registered citizens living in Florida. For more information about the study and how to schedule an interview, click here.
Want to be a County Coordinator for FAC? 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.
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)
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Let me say this first and most importantly… everyone accused of the crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty and we are strongly against sexual abuse of any kind. It is important to establish that this post is not to implicate someone of a crime before they…
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