Dear Members and Advocates,
Gail Colletta, our FAC President, participated in an interview with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), the research arm of the Florida Legislature. OPPAGA supports the Florida Legislature by providing data, evaluative research and objective analysis that assist legislative budget and policy deliberations. The agency meets every three years to report on the Registry, its purpose, demographics of registrants and conditions that have impacted change since the previous 3-year report.
As a participant, FAC identified the impact of the registry on families (from severe housing to elder abuse issues) and the communities (i.e., research shows no correlation between the registry and public safety). FAC involvement ensures our concerns are documented by this Florida State agency and made available to Florida lawmakers. This is the second time that FAC was invited to participate in the OPPAGA interviews. In 2018, FAC participated with the Re-entry Task Forces in south Florida to discuss the bloated Registry (out of 73,000 persons on FL Registry, two-thirds (48,000) were out-of-state, incarcerated or otherwise NOT in the communities).
In the previous OPPAGA Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review of 2018, some of the highlights were as follows:
- FDLE’s sex offense registry listed more than 73,000 offenders and predators, of which, just over 28,000 resided in Florida communities. Therefore, most offenders did not reside in Florida communities. The registry also included 985 deceased persons.
– Sex offenders can face barriers to housing, with local residence restrictions cited as a common obstacle.
– As of 2018, there were 166 local residence restrictions in 48 Florida counties. Fourteen communities, including seven counties and six municipalities, have enacted no loitering or child safety zone ordinances.
– According to the U. S. Department of Justice’s SMART, research has demonstrated that residence restrictions do NOT decrease and are NOT a deterrent for sexual recidivism. Some research has shown no significant decreases in sex crime rates following the implementation of residence restrictions. These restrictions can lead to an increase in homelessness, loss of family support, and financial hardship, which are all known to be destabilizing factors. Offenders who lack stability are more likely to re-offend.
– Florida does not have a state law providing direction to sex offenders on emergency shelter procedures. Additional considerations include dependent family members: minors, elderly parents, disabled and infirm family, or registrants, who require full time caregivers, etc. Florida has no policy to address this issue. Do the dependent family members seek shelter in other locations, without the registrants and, if so, who is then responsible for their care, safety and supervision?
Some of the issues Ms. Colletta discussed with OPPAGA this past week were:
– A recent bill passed by the Florida legislature taking away the shared custody rights of a registrant in a divorce involving their children unless a judge rules that the parent can have custody because he/she is not a risk.
– Florida will not use the preemptive rule to stop numerous municipalities/counties from enacting insane, draconian ordinances which are causing great confusion and harm for registrants.
– Because of residency restrictions, registrants are rejected by nursing homes, assisted care facilities and rehabilitation centers. We have registrants with dementia, who need oxygen, etc. who are living homeless in the woods with no one to care for them. These residency restrictions make it difficult for registrants to find housing.
- Registration requirements were changed from 5 days to 3 days for no reason, causing many unnecessary problems for registrants that do not make society safer
– Ms. Colletta recommended a work group to look at what we are doing and if Florida is following the empirical research.
– Members of OPPAGA expressed some amazement at what they learned from our president.
The 2021 report is expected to be available soon. You can find the previous 2018 OPPAGA report at https://oppaga.fl.gov/Products/ReportDetail?rn=18-08
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.
September 26 Sunday at 3pm-Hillsborough County Meet and Greet will host a member recently removed from the Registry, and his attorney. For the Tampa location, RSVP to [email protected] or call 321-754-0446
September 30 Thursday at 7 pm ~ Fearless Group – Peer-led Support meeting – You are Not Alone. Call. Dial (727) 731-2927. Join in the discussion with peer leaders Daphne and Don. Contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446. For more information see https://floridaactioncommittee.org/fearless-group-call-tonight/
October 7 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – Monthly Membership Call – phone 319-527-3487. Topic: TBD. 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.
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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