Dear Members and Advocates,

Last week FAC made a significant announcement. We modified our position to clearly and unambiguously state that we seek to abolish the registry. The decision was one that our Board debated extensively prior to adopting, but in the end it did not take much thought to arrive at the conclusion. (1) We support evidence-based policy and the evidence concludes that the registry is not effective. (2) We are in favor of public safety, and the social science unequivocally concludes that the registry does not make the public safer – If anything it provides the public a false sense of security. (3) We support programs that reduce recidivism and foster successful reentry, yet the studies show that the social isolation, housing and employment instability and other consequences of the registry actually form triggers for re-offense and are barriers to successful reentry.  And (4) we want our State to be safer, particularly for our children, yet the wasted resources being poured into the ineffective registry are being taken away from measures that will make our State safer.

Many of our goals are the same goals politicians and the public should want, such as evidence based policies, most efficient use of scarce resources and best practices that improve public safety and reduce recidivism. The registry does not achieve those goals at all. It was an experiment that failed miserably. It’s time to scrap it in it’s entirety in favor of policies that have been proven to achieve the goals we are trying to achieve. By sending an incorrect message that the registry could be “reformed”, it implies that there is some value to the registry. There is none. Only once we abolish this thing entirely and go back to the drawing board to implement what does work, can we start working towards our common goals.

So last week we took a firm position on what does not work. We are not going to leave it at that. This week we want to provide you with some solutions that DO work. These are suggestions for lawmakers who received your letters asking for the registry to be abolished and are wondering, “now what? What can we do to save face?”

What does work, you ask? Teaching parents to be more involved in their children’s lives, supervise their activities, get to know their teachers and coaches, screen their online activity and learn to detect the warning signs of abuse. What are the warning signs of abuse, you ask? If you’re asking, that’s exactly why you need training. Make these programs readily available – or even required for any parent who enrolls their child in school, camp, scouting, sports or any other activities where they will be in the presence of others.

What also works is educating children about parts of their bodies that are off-limits to anyone, how to set boundaries, encourage them to speak up and speak openly, and assure them they will not be in trouble no matter what they tell you. We are conditioned to tell our children “you listen to whatever your teacher tells you to do”, but perhaps it’s time to start introducing some caveats? If our children are taught to believe random people on a list are dangerous but their teachers, police, coaches and family members are to be blindly obeyed, we are grievously miseducating them. It might be uncomfortable or controversial to conduct these types of programs for children, but it’s necessary and it works.

How about training the general public on warning signs to watch out for? A “see something, say something” program is not going to work if the general public is not trained to recognize behavior that might be suspicious. The general public needs some education on what to look out for. We also need to know what to do if you see something “off”. Everyone knows that if they have a gambling problem they should call 1-800-ADMIT IT or if they are hurt or injured in an accident they should call 411-PAIN – every second billboard tells you so, but if you sense something might be suspicious, do you call 911 and potentially unnecessarily summon a swat team, or is there a specialized investigative service? Who knows? Prominently promoting hotline services where victims can call, text, email or go for help and then staff the services with qualified individuals who can help them would be a good idea to expand on if it doesn’t already exist.

What about instituting some restrictions that apply to all persons and not just registrants? Laws prohibit someone on the registry from being on a school property and the argument is that “it’s common sense to not have someone on the registry wandering around a school”, but the reality is that unless you are staff or are attending to your own child’s school dealings, no adult has any business walking around a school without a legitimate reason for being there. We don’t need a registry for that. The same goes for other areas. We have rules by swimming pools and other hazards that say “no minors unless accompanied by an adult”. Why not create rules on playgrounds that say “no adults unless accompanying a child.”? (We’re not talking about parks, but specifically playgrounds with children’s play equipment).

There are plenty more best practices out there and these are not things we came up with ourselves. These are taken from organizations such as RAINN and other state coalitions against sexual abuse. They are developed by experts in sexual abuse prevention and not by politicians. We’ve checked many of these organizations and while some may make reference to the registry, none of them suggest the registry among the best practices in preventing sexual abuse.

We appreciate the support of individuals and other organizations who have reached out this past week to get behind our new, stronger position statement. We continue to hope for the buy-in of other advocacy groups that deal with the registry. We also hope for the buy-in from sexual abuse prevention organizations and victims’ advocates who need these resources that are currently being wasted. Put simply, the consequence of not taking a radical change in course is that we will be making our children less safe. That is something nobody wants.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee

ANNOUNCEMENTS – MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Next Monthly Membership Meeting – Thursday October 6 at 8pm ET.  Call 319-527-3487.  Topic: How the Registry impacts Women and a study on Mothers of Registered Citizens with Guest Shelley Kavanaugh LCSW. If you have trouble connecting, text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 to received a call back and be connected to the meeting.

See Calendar of Events – Keep up with Meet-and-Greets in your area, Support groups, Membership Calls, and other events.  For questions and more information contact the Membership Team;   [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. Just some of the upcoming events below.

Sat Sep 17 – Meet and Greet in DeSoto County. Meet Chris, Jennifer and other local members in person, or join their regional call on Monday evenings to jump start your week on a positive note.  RSVP for meeting location or call-in number. Email  [email protected]ail.com or leave message at 941-500-4706.

Sep 23-25 – FAC County Coordinator Weekend Retreat in Vero Beach.  Come for a few hours or stay all weekend.  Your FAC representatives are getting together to discuss, plan and organize more local and state-wide gatherings to bring members together, share resources, and strengthen our voices in Florida.  Members interested in becoming a County Coordinator, or just meeting with us sometime during the weekend to share ideas, brainstorm and plan events are always welcome.  Contact the Membership Team to participate.

Thu Sep 29 at 7pm NEW Men’s Group– Call in to meet others for a discussion on issues that impact men.  Discussion will be based in part on the book “28 PITFALLS OF A MAN: A Practical Handbook Confronting Traps Every Man Will Face” by FAC member Rodney Rankins. E-book is available, and hard copies of of the book will be available at discounted price through the FAC Membership Team.  To Participant in the Men’s Group discussion, call 319-527-3487.. If any trouble connecting or if your service provider charges a fee, then simply text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 to receive a call back and be connected for free.

Oct 5-7 Palm Beach Re-Entry Summit – If you are involved with Re-Entry of Returning Citizens after incarceration, or want to become involved with a Re-Entry Task Force in your area, you may want to consider attending the Summit (at your own expense) or contacting the Membership team with your interest/concerns.  At least one FAC Board member will be attending the Summit to represent Registered Citizens and ensure that our community is INCLUDED in all re-entry service programs and opportunities.  Contact the Membership Team with your interests.

Oct 8 from 11am-1pm ET – Family Support Group Zoom call. Therapist-led support group of spouses, partners, parents, and relatives who have loved ones on the Registry.  By invitation only. Contact the Membership Team to participate.

Sat Oct 22 – Triple Play – Three separate Meet and Greets planned for Hernando/Brooksville, DeSoto/Sarasota, and the Fort Myers areas.  Watch for details and plan to attend a meeting near you.  This is a great opportunity to build relationships and help to strengthen FAC membership in your local area.

Sat Oct 29 – Civil Commitment: Intent vs Reality- Apopka (Orange County) – FAC is hosting the visit of a research Sociologist from University of South Carolina, Greensboro in preparation of his research on Civil Commitment.  He is interested in meeting and talking to persons that have knowledge and experience with the Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia FL.  Former residents, family members, professionals are invited to join us to identify issues/concerns, understand the intent vs reality of the system, and to identify the areas of research that need to be studied to support changes. Contact the Membership Team to participate.

Become a County Coordinator.  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]

Letter-Writing Campaigns – If you would like to participate in sending educational information to specific decision makers in Florida, please  contact [email protected].  Volunteers must be willing to proudly identify themselves by using their own name and return address on the letters.

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