Dear Members and Advocates,
One of our members recently shared a quote with us that sends a powerful message to those forced to register: An investigation in search of a crime. For many people, there was initially a real crime that was committed; but after completing their sentence, they are now law-abiding citizens. In fact, I know some registrants who will not drive even one mile over the speed limit for fear of being stopped and harassed by law enforcement.
Weekly, there are articles on the use of ineffective compliance checks, always with the same message – how much safer society is because of these checks. Journalists report on these checks in a manner that suggests that they expect all of us to walk up to every sheriff and hug their necks for completing these checks. How did we ever become a country where there is so much ignorance, where so many people have their heads stuck in the sand, where common sense has died, and where science/research is no longer important?
Just this past week, three central Ohio news stations reported on Ohio’s Franklin County’s “Operation Verify” for 1700 registrants. The cameraman captured video of law enforcement officials knocking on the front doors of registrants during the day on a weekday. Only around one third of the registrants were at home with the reporters and law enforcement officials acting suspicious as to why they were not finding many registrants at home. There was also talk of why these compliance checks are so important at the beginning of the school year as some registrants are not living at their registered addresses.
I have a suggestion for them: Since it was the middle of a weekday, could these people be at work, or could they simply be out running errands? Are they supposed to be sitting at home 24-hours-a-day waiting just in case the sheriff’s office runs an expensive, ineffective, multi-agency task force all in the name of public safety?
I have followed reporting on many of these compliance checks throughout this country. Invariably, 3% or less of the registrants are found to be out of compliance. Rarely, and I do mean rarely, do you hear of an arrest for a new sex offense, which is supposed to be what the public is concerned about.
What good it does, I do not always know, but FAC did notify all three news stations involved, 10 WBNS CBS ([email protected]), WSYX ABC6 ([email protected]) and WCMH-TV NBC4 ([email protected]) of the main issue: residency restrictions, which Ohio does have.
Nothing will possibly change in their reporting of the next white-elephant compliance check, but news stations and reporters cannot say that they were never told about the research:
Study from Jacksonville, FL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0011128712449230
Why Kansas does not have residency restrictions: https://www.doc.ks.gov/publications/CFS/sex-offender-housing-restrictions
Why Maryland does not have residency restrictions: https://www.dpscs.state.md.us/onlineservs/sor/frequently_asked_questions.shtml — see Question 15
How can law enforcement not see that these costly compliance checks are no more than investigations in search of a crime? The officials have to justify all of the taxpayer money that was spent when nothing that would be considered a real crime for most people was found to have occurred. Surely people who have been caught in the past committing a sex crime will also be found committing new sex crimes in these compliance checks. No, most compliance checks do not uncover a single new sex offense. So to save face, the sheriff’s office has to tout how much safer the community is because they located a few registrants who were not living at their registered address.
Initiating investigations in search of a crime is a huge waste of taxpayer money and law enforcement man-hours.
While these officials have their heads stuck in the sand, real crime is exploding in some cities. This past Labor Day weekend, Chicago had at least 65 people shot, 6 fatally. Officials always say, “This is not acceptable.” But apparently, putting people in prison for up to 5 years for not being able to find a residence in central Ohio that meets the residency restriction requirements is more important than stopping the senseless, illegal gun violence in this country.
St. Lucie County in Florida has also recently conducted a compliance check, accomplishing nothing more than wasting taxpayer money. An Opinion Piece was sent to their local paper, but it appears that the paper chose not to print it. That was their loss as they chose not to educate the public.
There are signs of hope, though, while some law enforcement officials keep investigating in search of a crime and not finding one. The American Law Institute, following the research, has recommended major changes be made with the registry. It falls short of abolishing the registry, but the recommended changes would make the Florida registry move from barbaric, draconian and medieval up to possibly just punitive. In Colorado, there is a push in the state legislative body to reform their registry as people are starting to recognize that the registry is causing more harm than good. Law Enforcement in California supported moving to a tiered registry. Unfortunately, though, it is by offense and not by risk – something that was pushed through at the last minute as an amendment without discussion. But for many people in California, the registry is no longer for life. I am also hearing of sheriffs in Florida and other states privately saying that they know the registry is ineffective.
This is why we have to continue educating the media, state legislators, the U. S. Congress, law enforcement, judges and the public. It is all slowly coming to fruition. Law enforcement needs to focus on real-time crimes and stop searching for crimes that do not exist.
The Florida Action Committee
Housing is Needed – We receive calls daily from members looking for housing. If you have housing to rent or purchase, please contact email [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, option 1. We will only share the information with the FAC Outreach team and the County Coordinator in your area.
September 25 Saturday – Duval County Meet and Greet in the Riverside area of Jacksonville from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. There will be light refreshments at the end of the meeting and will be a great opportunity to meet and speak with other members in your area! In order to get an estimate of the number of people planning attending Duval’s Meet and Greet, and to receive the physical location of the meeting site, please RSVP no later than Thursday, September 23rd by contacting your Duval County Coordinator by email [email protected] and you can call or text (904) 300-0109.
October 7 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – Monthly Membership Call – phone 319-527-3487. Topic: Legislative Delegation meetings and getting ready for the 2022 Legislative Session. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
October 8-10 – Houston TX – NARSOL Annual Conference. Livestream access is available for $40. Visit https://narsol.org/category/conference-news-and-highlights/ to view conference highlights.
October 14 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – New Member Orientation Call – phone 319-527-3487. Ask questions about the organization, share resources, discuss local issues and learn about volunteer opportunities. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
October 16 Saturday – REGULAR TIME 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.
Date TBD 7:00 pm – Fearless Group – Peer-led Support meeting – You are Not Alone. Dial (727) 731-2927. For more information, email [email protected]
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)
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