Dear Members and Advocates,

Senate Bill 234 has passed through the Florida Legislature and is now on its way to Governor DeSantis for signature. This Bill was the primary focus of our Legislative Committee this session and over the course of the last few months members have written emails, made calls, submitted speaker cards and even showed up to share their opinions on this bill with their lawmakers. It was likely the largest response we’ve had to our calls to action and we saw that in watching video broadcast of the committee meetings where the Chair read off the names of hundreds individuals who submitted speaker cards waiving in opposition of the bill, to the sponsor attempting to intentionally divert the focus away from the concerning language, to the amendments made to the Bill before it was finalized.

So where did things leave off? Thankfully, the version of the bill that is making it’s way to the Governor’s office DOES NOT contain the language that we were concerned about. That language was, “[a] day includes any part of a calendar day.” What that language would have done is required persons required to register to report a temporary or transient residence as “a place”  where the person “abides, lodges, or resides” or “lives, remains, or is located” for “3 or more [parts of a calendar day] in the aggregate during any calendar year”. In simple terms, if a person was located at their local grocery store three times in a year, they would have had to register that grocery store. If a person abides at a friend’s house for any part of the day to, for example, to watch a football game, that friend’s home would have required registration. If you were located at the same barber shop for a haircut three or more times a year, that would have created another dot on the map. Could you imagine all the trips to the sheriff’s office to make IN PERSON reports? Could you imagine all of the red dots on the Florida map? Could you imagine all the homes and businesses that would be vandalized, not because a registrant lives there, but because one was located there for a couple minutes a few times a year?

In summary, the change that Senate Bill 234 makes is to close the alleged “loophole” which was allegedly “exploited” in State v. James, 298 So. 3d 90 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). It clarifies that release from conviction sanctions for sexual offender reporting and registration purposes includes payment of any court-imposed fine. In other words, a person’s failure to pay a fine does not relieve the person of the requirement to register. The reality is; this doesn’t impact anybody already on the registry and while it is a disaster for Ray La Vel James, most of you reading this are not in the same boat. The new definition of “Day” is gone from the bill! Somewhat unfortunately, also gone is the opportunity to report vehicle changes online. When asked in our forum what FAC’s take is on the final version of the Bill, we explained it as follows: “every year we go into the legislative session expecting to get bashed in the head with a sledgehammer. This year was looking that way for a bit. In the end, we’re taking our punch to the arm and grateful for the support we had from our members in avoiding the sledgehammer.” It is what it is.

As a general thought, however, is the reality that Florida’s Registration Statute (943.0435) was enacted in 1997, but was amended in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and now. I kid you not! The registry was amended 18 times in 23 years some of the amendments contained multiple additional requirements or restrictions. At the current pace, assuming the average registrant will live an additional 30 years, if left unchecked we could expect a couple dozen more enhancements during their lifetime! It makes it very difficult to plan a life when you don’t know what new requirements and restrictions lie ahead. Plus, as you might guess, the changes have not been for the better. That’s why the “Ex Post Facto Plus” case is so important. On that front, we are excited that the Initial Brief was filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week! You can read a copy of it here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Doe-v.-Swearingen-11th-Initial-Brief.pdf.

In closing, we would be remiss to not acknowledge the significant contributions of our members and volunteers, especially the members of our Legislative Committee who track the Bills passing through legislature, keeping an eye out for the ones that impact our population and letting us know about them, the members who responded to our calls to action who called, wrote and even showed up to help block the passage of some devastating language in SB 234, and the members who contribute (and still contribute, as it’s still needed) to our Ex Post Facto Sustainer Fund that helps keep this important lawsuit going!

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee


Reminders:

Research Studies – Voluntary Participation.

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.

Monthly Membership Calls 

Tonight Thursday April 29 at 7pm ET – Fearless Group – Peer-led discussion on releasing fears and building confidence.  To participate, call 727-731-2927.

May 1 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.

May 6  Thursday at 8:00pm ET – Monthly Membership Call. Topic: What to Know about Buying a Home or Rental.  Guest Real Estate agent Daphne Thomas.  Phone 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.

May 13 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.

Meet and Greets are Resuming:

SEBRING MEET-and-GREET – NEW DATE and TIME – Saturday May 8 in Sebring (Highlands County) – Meet-and-Greet. Optional Smorgasbord Lunch 11:30-1:00pm  ($10 pp) followed by the local meeting from 1-2pm.   For location, RSVP to [email protected] or text to 904-452-8322 with your name and number attending.

Monday May 17 at 7pm – Primarily for Palm Beach / Broward / Miami-Dade members, however, all members are welcome to join.  Catch up on local issues and meet your local team. Call 319-527-3487.

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 THIS WEEK

 WTF: “Concern” about registrant paralegal?

These stories really piss me off. The headline of an article on the “Crawford County Now”, reads, “Tier 1 sex offender assists in …jury selection.” Naturally I had to click on this rag to find out what happened or what the issue was. Turns out just that… An…

Matt Gaetz pushed for sexual predator legislation. How will that work out for him?

In 2014, long before he became the subject of a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Matt Gaetz pushed Florida to enact what he called a “scorched-earth” policy toward sexual predators. Gaetz, then 31 years old, served as the chairman of the Florida House of…

Mitchell Hamline School of Law Proctors LSAT in Prison

Hoping to become the first, the Mitchell Hamline School of Law Dean proctored the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for two inmates incarcerated in Minnesota last week. The Mitchell Hamline School of law, which houses a Sex Offense Policy and Resource Center…

Psychologist at Minnesota sex offender program charged with sexually assaulting two clients

A psychologist who worked for more than six years at a state-operated treatment center for sex offenders in northern Minnesota has been charged with sexually assaulting two men while they were in custody at the facility. The psychologist, Michelle D. Brownfield, 38,…

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