Politicians do not care about the facts, they only care about what makes themselves look better to the sheeple!
By JESSICA PALOMBO
As Senate President Don Gaetz had promised, his chamber passed several bills on the first day of session aimed at denying convicted sex offenders the chance to hurt children. But critics of the crackdown say it does nothing to prevent first-time offenses, which they say make up the majority of crimes against kids.
For Diena Thompson, the sex predator legislation is personal. The mother from the Jacksonville suburb of Orange Park said she was at the Capitol Tuesday because of her daughter Somer.
“Somer, who was a twin, was walking home from school October 19, 2009, and she was abducted and murdered and subsequently found two days later in the Georgia landfill," Thompson says.
- Why wasn't she being a parent and picking her kid up from school or the bus stop? Why let a young child walk home from school? Anybody can tell you that is not safe for anybody!
Somer was 7 years old when a neighbor killed her. In the almost five years since, her mother has been advocating for educational programs in public schools to teach other children how to avoid danger.
- Yes education is the key and should be taught in school and by the parents.
She says, “As a mother in this situation, I can’t help but wonder or think, if Somer had been given the opportunity to receive that program, would I still be talking to all these people? Would I still be here today?”
- Or if you taught your child about safety and what to do if someone approaches her. Parents need to be parents and stop letting Big Brother be their scapegoat when something goes wrong!
The man who killed Somer had no sex crimes on his record. Thompson acknowledges the bill package Gaetz calls the "centerpiece" of the session is not aimed at preventing first-time offenses.
“As far as Somer’s case, unfortunately, none of this really would have made a difference for her," she says.
- You may be right, and it may not help others. If you do not teach your kids about their bodies and safety then how are they suppose to know what to do when a situation arises? We do believe if safety / abuse courses were taught in school then many children / adults would know what to do when something happens.
But she says she supports increased monitoring and penalties for convicted offenders nonetheless.
“I can’t change it for myself. I can’t change it for anyone else that has had this happen to them, but hopefully with these new laws coming in, we’ll be able to help other people. And by getting them educated," she says.
The measures passed Tuesday would make it more likely sex offenders are referred to civil commitment proceedings upon their release from prison, meaning more of them could be committed to a facility or subject to community monitoring. The bills also impose longer prison sentences and monitoring periods after release. And they increase requirements for reporting an offender’s whereabouts, including noting whether they’re on a college campus.
- Longer prison sentences and civil commitment is not going to fix everything. I may stop one person, but most sexual crimes are by first time offenders. Education is the key not fear and hysteria!
In his opening remarks, Gaetz said over the past 15 years, 594 Florida sexual offenders had reoffended after serving time for a previous crime.
- Reoffended how? We are willing to bet most were due to parole / probation violations due to the draconian nature of the unconstitutional laws, but that's only a guess.
Gaetz said, “We will protect our children, and we will scorch the earth against sexually violent predators. And we will start today because we cannot waste one more day and we cannot lose one more child.”
- You need to get off Fantasy Island! No matter how many laws you pass, people will be violated and (God forbid) murdered.
But critics of the proposed laws call them well-intentioned but ultimately nothing more than “feel-good legislation.” Florida Action Committee President Gail Colletta says Gaetz is pushing something that won’t make children safer.
“I understand where he’s coming from and I admire his intent and his beliefs to make Florida a safer state, but instead of saying this is going to be the most unfriendly place for sex offenders, his statement should have been, ‘This is going to be the safest place for children,'” she says.
- You cannot say that since nobody can guarantee Florida will be the "safest" place. That is another false / wishful statement. Passing insane laws won't solve anything, you need to be educating children in school!
Colletta’s group advocates for what it calls an evidence-based approach to sex offender legislation. She says the new laws employ more of the tactics that haven’t worked: imposing harsh punishments on all sex offenders regardless of their risk for committing future offenses. She advocates for risk assessments to be administered before sentencing.
- We do not believe in risk assessments at all. If someone commits a crime then they need to be punished for it, but once they get out of prison and off probation / parole, then they should be able to do what everybody else does without any regulations and insane rules!
And she says violent sex offenders released from prison need step-down housing so they can get re-acclimated to society. "Because some of these guys are going to be, like, 30-plus years that they haven’t been living amongst the rest of us, and now they’re going to be given $100 and a bus ticket," she says.
With research showing more than 95 percent of sexual offenses are committed by first-time offenders, Colletta agrees with Thomspon that education is the most important factor in preventing more cases like Somer’s.
- Florida lawmaker says DHS should face "tough questions" about its new sex offender evaluation director