Dear Members and Advocates,

I know this Weekly Update comes to you much earlier in the week than usual (right at the beginning of the week), but when there’s something brewing inside me, I find it hard to hold back. I’m feeling really cheated by OPPAGA! As a taxpayer and as a citizen of the State of Florida, I feel swindled and I want everyone reading this to know why.

The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) is the research arm of the Florida Legislature. They are the agency created by the legislature to handle the investigation and research into whether laws are working or not.  But they failed to do their job!

Florida Statute §943.04353 mandates that OPPAGA “shall, every 3 years, perform a study of the effectiveness of Florida’s sexual predator and sexual offender registration process and community and public notification provisions.” Every three years they are tasked with studying the “effectiveness” of the registry and submitting a report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. I put effectiveness in quotes, so I can circle back to the definition of the word, since OPPAGA clearly missed its directive. ‘Effectiveness’, by definition, is the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result. In this case, it’s public safety. If the state is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, shouldn’t we know if the application of that money is effective?

As I read through the 34 pages of the long anticipated OPPAGA “Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review” I kept waiting for their findings… but they never came. Is the registry effective?!?!? Isn’t that the answer OPPAGA was expected to deliver? Nowhere in their report do they deliver any conclusions.

My blood was boiling after reading through it a second time to make sure I didn’t miss something. Sure, they pointed out some facts – such as the fact that most people on the registry (in fact, more than 60%) do not live in Florida communities, but I could have reported the same fact in three minutes with a spreadsheet. That’s a fact that we (the Florida Action Committee) have been pointing out to lawmakers for more than a decade! They also pointed out the high number of homeless registrants (as high as 28%) in some counties. But OPPAGA makes no mention of the cause of homelessness (sex offender residency restrictions) or whether the component of registration that is directly causing homelessness is effective in making the public safer. Come on OPPAGA! Nearly 20% of the report addressed registrants enrolled in college, which is a total non-issue, but 0% to the thousands of aging registrants who can’t go to nursing homes or assisted living.

Allow me to offer a bit more insight into why I’m so frustrated. In a weekly update this past September (https://floridaactioncommittee.org/weekly-update-2021-09-22-ref170/) we reported that FAC’s President, Gail Colletta, participated in an interview with OPPAGA. In anticipation of that meeting, FAC prepared volumes of research and statistics into the effectiveness of the registry and it’s requirements. Essentially, we did OPPAGA’s job for them. I also know ATSA representatives did the same. Not that I thought OPPAGA would blindly report what we presented without doing any independent research. But I certainly expected they would do some research and opining. Apparently, they didn’t. At all!

In their 2018 report, at least they acknowledged that the “U.S. Department of Justice’s Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking Office (SMART) research has demonstrated that residence restrictions do not decrease and are not a deterrent for sexual recidivism.” This round made absolutely no mention of it, which can easily lead one to believe that after their last report someone (or someones) told OPPAGA to suppress anything that might go against the State of Florida’s present scheme.

As a citizen of this State, as a taxpayer and as an individual who is subjected to these laws, I am desperate to know the answer OPPAGA was supposed to provide to the legislature. What is the effectiveness of the registry in making the public safer? Their recent report fell way short of providing that answer. Their recent report provided only a cursory snapshot of some aspects of registration, as if its intended audience were people who’ve never heard of a registry. We should not have to wait 3 more years for OPPAGA to do their damn job! As citizens, taxpayers and individuals subjected to these laws, we deserve better. We should demand better.

Florida Statutes mandate a study of the effectiveness of Florida’s sexual predator and sexual offender registration process and community and public notification provisions be prepared by OPPAGA. What OPPAGA put together was shameful and a complete dereliction of their obligation. If you agree, please take a moment to let OPPAGA know ([email protected]) and let your legislators know (https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find). Demand an independent workgroup be formed to give us that answer.

We have real problems that are not being addressed. We also have real research, real experts, and real solutions to these problems that our legislators need to know about.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee

 Announcements

TONIGHT – Monday January 10 a 7pm – Fearless Group meeting.  Peer-led Support group – You are Not Alone. Dial (727) 731-2927 to join the Fearless Group and the peer leaders Daphne and Don.  For more information about the support group, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446, or see Fearless Group Post

Thursday January 13th – 8:00 pm New Member Orientation call with County Coordinators.  Ask questions, get resources, learn more about the FAC Organization and volunteer opportunities.   Call-in at 319-527-3487.  If you have any trouble connecting, text “CALL ME” to 319-527-3487 to receive a call-back and be connect to the service.

Saturday, January 15th – Duval FAC 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!  Please RSVP no later than Thursday, January 13th by contacting your Duval County Coordinator by Email [email protected]; telephone call or text (904) 300-0109.  You will receive a response back that will provide you with the FAC Meet and Greet’s physical location and parking directions.  Hope to see you on the 15th!

Saturday, January 22nd– Legislative Committee meeting in Palm Beach (or attend via Zoom) from 10am-Noon.  Discuss pending bills, tracking bills, FL House and Senate committees, and how to communicate Call-to-Action alerts.  In-Person meeting in Palm Beach (seating is limited) or join by Zoom.  For location or Zoom link, RSVP to [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.  Provide your name and the number attending.  A County Coordinator will call you with location or email the Zoom link.

Saturday, February 5th – Central FL Meet and Greet in Apopka (Orange County) Noon-3:00pm.  Get ready to address and stuff envelopes for letter campaign to local leaders and representatives.  Meet other members and enjoy light refreshments as we work.  RSVP to [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.  Provide your name and the number attending.  A County Coordinator will call you with location and details.

Saturday, February 26th – Broward FAC Meet and Greet in the Hollywood from 11am – 2:pm.  Light Refreshments and special guest speaker.  RSVP to [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.  Provide your name and the number attending.  One of the Broward County Coordinators will call you with location and details.

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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SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK

OPPAGA – Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review – 2021 is out!

The Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) studied the effectiveness of Florida’s sex offender registration process and public notification provisions and prepared their triennial report for 2021. Below is a link to the…read more

Overcoming Our Own Worst Mistakes

There’s a story in football that goes all the way back to 1929. Roy Riegels of Cal picked up a fumble and nearly returned the ball to the endzone … for the opposing team. He had to be tackled by a teammate and earned the nickname “Wrong Way Riegels.” He was so…read more

HUGE NEWS: Lawsuit Challenges Brevard County Ordinance Prohibiting People on Sex Offender Registry from Attending County Commission Meetings as Unconstitutional

The Florida Justice Institute (FJI), in partnership with Brevard County attorney Jessica J. Travis of DefendBrevard.com, filed a lawsuit challenging a Brevard County ordinance that prohibits people on the sex offender registry from attending County Commission meetings…read more

Call to Action, Contact Florida’s newly formed Safety & Justice Task Force

The Safety & Justice Task Force has been formed to help bring Florida’s justice system into the 21st Century with improved public safety, fairness, and accountability. The members are: State Attorney Andrew Warren, Chair (Hillsborough County/Tampa) Public Defender…read more

Utah state senator’s bill would amend restrictions for registrants

A Utah state senator has sponsored a bill that would allow registrants to go to places like schools and parks, if they are with an adult, and would replace the term “sex offender” with “registrant”. University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell says replacing the term…read more

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