Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FL - Commentary: More homeless sex offenders on the way

Original Article


By GAIL COLLETTA (Florida Action Committee)

The United States is home to about 750,000 sex offenders, with slightly less than 60,000 registered in Florida. According to a 2012 study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Florida saw a 74 percent increase in the number of sex offenders in the past five years.

What has also increased exponentially in the last five years is the number of municipalities that have passed tough residency restrictions against those classified as sex offenders. With thousands being added to the list each year and Florida requiring lifetime registration, the number of registrants will steadily climb while the available housing options will steadily decrease, leaving a growing number of registrants with nowhere to live.

In a 2009 study that appears on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, it was reported that as much as 50 percent of the state is off limits to sex offenders. More populated areas had less than 10 percent available, with some cities entirely zoning out registrants. Wherever there is an available pocket for registrants to cluster, the growing trend has been to install a pocket park to close off the area.

Compounded by the fact that few landlords want their address published online or are unwilling to rent to former sex offenders, and public registration rendering employment unlikely, more sex offenders are forced into a life of homelessness or are driven underground.

So why should we care? As WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando reported, "More than 230 convicted sex offenders in Central Florida are almost untraceable." Without an address, it is virtually impossible to check up on them. Those numbers are even worse in South Florida, which has twice as many homeless registrants. Also, homelessness leads to instability and recidivism.

All the while, study after study has shown that residency restrictions are ineffective and actually do more harm than good.

So, unless we do care about public safety and do something to reverse these counterproductive residency restrictions, more homeless sex offenders will be coming to our neighborhoods.

See Also:


dlc said...

It figures. The lame stream media and politicians have driven society to a frenzy. Society has become driven by fear and enacts restrictions/laws based on this fear and need for vengeance. They do not realize that the very issues they are trying to avoid are being created by the self-same restrictions. There taxes are being increased because of these restrictions and the public is less safe because of the restrictions. Sex offenders have become the drug dealers of the 20XX's. Society must get smart about what they accept from the media and the politicians.

shiners said...

Creating a sub-class of "Sex Offenders" gives the general public the feeling of power. Anything that has to do with sex offenders is a form of entertainment where people of no power get to be self righteous.
People reading about sex offenders is like bottle-necking at a traffic accident. People are interested because it is something that they know can easily happen to them. They can identify with the subject.

With the expanding laws; I am certain that most people older than 13 has done something to be registered as a sex offender if caught.
Although I didn't get registered until I was 32; I could have been one at age 15. (A 14 year old girl liked me and we hooked up... I mean, I "molested" her). I was then caught in the back seat of my car at a park by a cop while I was hooking up with my 17 year old g/f when I was 18 (woops, I meant to say I molested her)

Taking this power from the majority of the country would be difficult.
I would like to think that MOST politicians want to reform the sex offender laws. Anyone who is involved in SOME way knows the facts. Unfortunately, the politicians have to pick their fights. They undoubtedly believe that they can do more good while in office; and being a proponent to reform sex offender laws would most certainly put them out of office.

Unfortunately, the only way to see reform is for the laws to fail under their own weight. The laws will need to get worse and more strict. More people will need to go to jail. Politicians, officers, and judges need to have close family members caught up in the law, if not themselves.