By Marisa Gottesman
The Sun Sentinel investigation that uncovered the failures of Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act (Wikipedia), which was intended to keep people safe from sexual predators and offenders attacking again, prompted Delray Mayor Cary Glickstein to quiz the police department about what measures were in place to keep residents safe.
At a recent City Commission meeting, Delray Police Chief Anthony Strianese, Delray's police chief gave commissioners an update of the city's Sexual Predator Offender Tracking System, which was created by the Delray police department to keep a closer eye on sexual predators and offenders.
"SPOT is working," Strianese said. "We are doing more than anybody else in South Florida."
Even though the city keeps stricter tabs on the whereabouts of the registered offenders than what is mandated by the state — mainly by checking in with offenders more frequently — the Commission wanted to know if they could take any additional action.
Glickstein brought up changing the boundaries for where the offenders can live within Delray, saying neighboring cities, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, have more restrictive rules in place.
The state law prevents registered sex offenders whose victims were under 16, from living within 1,000 feet of any schools, day care centers or parks if their offense occurred after Oct. 1, 2004.
People who committed crimes prior to that date or whose victims were older than 17 can legally live in those areas.
"Most of our offenders reside in areas where people would think they couldn't," Strianese said of the city's 59 offenders and predators, explaining that they fall into one of the exemptions in the law.
Currently, Delray's ordinance extends the state rule to 1,500 feet and includes public bus stops.
Glickstein asked Strianese if Delray should change the buffer to match the neighboring cities, which have expanded their statues to 2,500-foot boundaries.
Boca and Boynton have fewer offenders in their cities, 13 and 22 respectively.
And while there is no proof that the boundary in those cities correlates to a lower number of offenders living there, Glickstein said bumping up the boundary in Delray could serve as a deterrent.
- It's not a deterrent! You are living on Fantasy Island or something! It only forces ex-offenders away from family & support, and into homelessness, joblessness & exile, which increases the risk of further crimes.
Strianese said he had concerns about changing the lines to 2,500 feet.
"It would only leave one area for these people to live," he said, adding the courts may rule that such a change would be too broad.
Upon hearing this, some commissioners voiced concerns.
"If I was living on that one street I would be very upset," Commissioner Angeleta Gray said.
Commissioner Al Jacquet also had an issue with expanding the boundary.
"We aren't Boca or Boynton," he said. "We are Delray. It doesn't seem right to me to make the radius as large as possible if what we have right now is working."
Commissioner Adam Frankel suggested looking into something in the middle, a 2,000 foot boundary.
Before making any changes, Strianese said he would draw up maps outlining varying boundaries for the Commission to consider.