As Tropical Storm Erika approaches and is expected to turn into a hurricane, we’re getting a bunch of inquiries from registrants; particularly those who are transient and who live in evacuation zones, as to where they can go.
In 2005 Florida passed a policy that pretty much banned registered citizens from emergency shelters. The policy is further limited by County ordinances, City ordinances and the shelter themselves. Just like the residency ordinances, because the FDLE or State says something, your County Sheriff, City police or individual shelter might have a stricter policy.
NOW IS THE TIME TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you feel you might be subject to an evacuation or are living homeless, NOW is the time to find appropriate shelter. DO NOT WAIT until the storm is close, it will be too late.
If you are on probation, call your probation officer NOW and ask them to tell you where to go. If you are on electronic monitoring (house arrest or GPS) you should call your PO regardless NOW to ask them what contingency plan is in place for you should there be an emergency. You don’t want to be faced with the choice of getting injured in a storm or getting violated.
If you are not on probation, you are allowed to stay someplace else for a couple days. Remember, a registrable temporary residence is where you stay for 5 or more days. If you have the means to check in to a motel for a night, go! Have family in the area, stay with them! as long as you won’t be there for more than 4 nights, you’re OK.
If you are not on probation, have no family and cannot afford a cheap motel, call your County Sheriff and ask them where you are to go. Then, also call the shelter to confirm you will not be turned away. Be sure to document who you spoke with and, if possible, get that permission in writing. SOME shelters will accept registrants in segregated areas.
If all else fails, go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass GO… etc. “State officials say that offenders seeking shelter in a prison or jail won’t be placed with other prisoners since they are not being arrested. At the jail or prison, sex offenders will wear an ID badge and can use the telephone. 7,458 sex offenders are currently on probation in Florida.” So… apparently you are not supposed to be thrown in with inmates and you are supposed to be free to use the phones, etc. I can’t vouch for anything “state officials say” but apparently, that’s the deal.
We cannot stress the importance of doing your homework NOW! Your PO/FDLE may not be open this weekend and individuals will likely be working on their own hurricane preparedness and not worrying about yours in the last minute.