Dear Members and Advocates,

Every July 4th I reflect on the meaning of this holiday and why it is celebrated. In 1776, the founders of this nation got together and wrote this document declaring themselves independent from British rule. The document, fittingly called the “Declaration of Independence”, was basically a list of grievances against the government of England – a break-down of all the things 56 congressional delegates of the 13 colonies could come up with that upset them about the tyrannical rule they were under. The founding fathers believed that ALL men are entitled to certain basic rights in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights should have been obvious and “self-evident”, but the British had somehow allowed themselves to stray from what was so self-evident and so was born this country… the land of the free!

In my opinion, the ”land of the free” has since, itself, strayed from what is obvious and self-evident. Firstly, for claiming the title, “land of the free” we have a higher percentage of citizens who are anything but free. The U.S. is the world leader in incarceration, with more than 2 million prisoners nationwide. Not only do we lead the world in the number of people who are “not free” with 25% of the world’s total prison population (where we only account for 4% of the world’s population), but we lead the world in percentage of our people who are “not free” with an incarceration rate of 716 people per 100,000. You would think that there would be some correlation between its high incarceration rate and it’s crime rate, but there is none. The United States isn’t even close to the top 10 in crime rates (for those who are wondering, currently Venezuela tops that list) or violence.

So what gives? How is it possible that the Sentencing Project cites the statistic that during the past 40 years, incarceration in the U.S. has increased by Five Hundred Percent (500%) when the crime rate hasn’t? One reason for that is longer prison sentences and mandatory minimum sentences. Over the same period, there has been no evidence that longer sentences advance justice or provide deterrence. Another reason is increasing barriers to reentry. Instead of fostering a successful return to the community, we are making it more difficult to find housing, employment, social services and other necessities of life. There is no greater example of barriers to successful reentry than the sex offender registry. As if the stigma of being publicly labeled on the internet were not enough of a challenge, try adding residency and employment restrictions, plus an ever expanding list of rules and regulations to follow, where each misstep is a new 3rd degree felony! As with increased time, the increased restrictions come with absolutely no evidence that they promote public safety. Mass incarceration, barriers to reentry and offender registries not only hurt those who are in the criminal justice system but their families and communities as well, yet our nation has adopted them with complete disregard to the rights we once believed to be self-evident.

 To that end, we are hearing more cases of individuals being arrested for failure to register “internet identifiers”. There is a concern that the identifiers they are being charged with failing to register are not registrable to begin with. If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for failure to register an internet identifier that was not used or was not used for direct person-to-person communication, please contact us at [email protected].  (Reference ruling of 9/21/2018.)

Ironically, nowhere else in the world is “freedom” more elusive than in the very communities we celebrate it on July 4th. Let’s not allow the reasons behind this holiday to be lost among the barbecue and fireworks and lets not allow our representatives in local, state and federal government to forget that either. We are human beings! We are parents, we are children, we are brothers and sisters, workers, employers, family and friends. We are members of our communities and we are citizens of our United States, entitled to the self-evident truth that we are equal and endowed with certain unalienable Rights, including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Sincerely,

Th Florida Action Committee

eANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Monthly Membership Call Thursday July 7th at 8pm ET. Topic: Polygraphs with Guest experts. Call 319-527-3487 (long distance rates may apply). If you have any trouble connecting, text “CALL ME” to 319-527-3487.  FreeConferenceCall.com will call you back and connect you to the conference.

See Calendar of Events – Keep up with Meet-and-Greets in your area, Support groups, Membership Calls, and other events.  For questions, contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325,Option 1.

Click Here for Calendar, and double click on the event to view details and RSVP instructions

July 16 – Sarasota Meet-and Greet

July 23- Lee County Meet and Greet in Ft Myers

July 30 – Manatee Meet-and Greet

Aug 6 – Orange County Meet-and-Greet in Apopka

Aug 20 – Volusia County Meet-and-Greet in Daytona

Aug 27 – Broward Meet and Greet in Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood

New County Coordinator Training begins week of July 10th.  The only requirement is your desire to HELP us organize your county.  If you are interested in joining the County Coordinator Team, leave message at 833-273-7325, Option 1, or email [email protected]

SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK

7th Circuit upholds lifetime GPS for repeat offenders

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A man arrested for stealing a meat pastry took his own life after police incorrectly labelled him a pedophile

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North Dakota’s sex offender registry gets update to provide residents more information

In 1947, California became the first state in the US to have a sex offender registry program and, over the years, other states followed suit. North Dakota’s law was passed in 1991. The registries are meant to give residents the tools to protect themselves from…

Read and Comment: 25 Years After Court Ruling, Released Sex Offenders Endure ‘Shadow Prisons

On June  23 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kansas v. Hendricks, upheld the practice of detaining people convicted of sexual offenses beyond prison sentences under the guise of treatment. The landmark 5-4 ruling also concluded that the Kansas law governing the…

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