Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ACLU Holds Forum on Sex Offender Registry Restrictions

LAKE MONROE, FLORIDA – March 17, 2014

This past Saturday, the ACLU of Florida held a forum on the efficacy of sex offender residency restrictions. The event, moderated by CBS 4 Reporter Jim DeFede, sought to answer the question of whether the residency restrictions imposed on sex offenders are based on evidence or politics and, more importantly, whether they are actually making our communities safer.

The panel for this forum was comprised of Jeanne Baker; an ACLU cooperating attorney who has worked on cases challenging residency restrictions, Gail Colletta; President of the Florida Action Committee, Dawn Thompson; assistant executive director Kristi House child advocacy center and Marc Sarnoff; Miami City Commissioner.

Surprisingly, although the panel included a children’s advocate and one of the commissioners who was responsible for architecting measures to zone sex offenders out of communities, the panelists all agreed that the restrictions were based on politics, ran contrary to empirical evidence and studies consistently show they are ineffective and that they are not making our community safer.

The most shocking facts to emerge from the forum were that of the 2,017 sex offenders in Miami-Dade County. 82 are incarcerated and 42 are deceased, leaving 1,893 in the community. Of those; 342 (18%) are registered as “Transient” (homeless) and 224 (12%) are listed as “Absconded” (have gone underground to avoid registration/residency requirements). An unintended consequence of residency restrictions is that almost one-third of registrants are harder to track.

Those who have absconded are likely in the community; police just don’t know where they are and certainly cannot check up on them. Those who are transient lack housing stability and are removed from family support; both are triggers for re-offense.

Not only have the residency restrictions created an intolerable and inhumane lifetime punishment imposed on registrants, but they are endangering the citizens of Miami-Dade.

Florida Action Committee (FAC), founded in 2006, is a state-wide consortium of concerned citizens and professionals whose purpose is to promote the prevention of sexual abuse while preserving the safety and dignity of all citizens through carefully structured laws targeting the truly violent, forced, and/or dangerous predatory acts of sex. FAC believes that many aspects of the current approach to sex offenders seriously undermine justice and actually increase the threat of sexual assault against others, particularly children. FAC opposes a publicized registry of sex offenders and seeks to bring an end to the humiliation of people who have already paid for their crimes. FAC asserts that only by supporting justice for all people—offenders and victims alike can a truly safe society be built and secured for all Americans.


  1. Hate and ignorance have pervaded over the truth. With courage to stand up to the bigotry, the truth is coming to light. Thank you to all brave people who stand up for the truth!

    Sex offender; a label, not a definition.

  2. There are many issues involved here. The sovereign right of a parent (any parent) to be with their child in public places is mandated not just by natural law (a mother bear even has the right to be with her cubs) but also spiritual law and Constitutional law. The reason for having a sex offender registry was for the worst of the worst (child molesters and rapist) but if someone is deemed so bad then why are they even amongst us? Why do we have parole and probation departments? Is it not to ensure those that get out of prisons and jails are safe to be in society? Registered sex offenders are put into programs of accountability and therapy that make them walk a thin line. While they are on parole or probation I can understand them being on a sex offender registry. One that anyone could access through their local sheriff's department, but that's not the case. Today anyone can get the registrant's address and come into their homes and kill them and their family (which has been done). So, the Sex Offender Registry is a form of Living Death that instills fear. Where are we in pre-1945 Germany? Hitler would be proud. The right of a parent to be with their child is the most fundamental of rights. If we resolve to remove such rights from any parent and do nothing to fight for that right we ourselves deserve the kind of state of affairs given by tyrants. The registrant's child safety is put at risk not to allow their parent to be with them in public places. A parent is the first line of protection for a child. To remove that element violates every right of not just the parent but that of the child also. The Supreme Court says to register is not punitive but regulatory. Really? What can be more punitive than not to allow a parent to be with their child? The registry itself has gotten way out of hand that it would dare go this far. The registered sex offender has become today's new Whipping Boy for votes and politicians line up to add lashes to them with every harmful requirement put against them and the public will gladly applause it. The Constitution was put in place to protect the Rights of the few from the actions of the many. We have ignored that Constitution in the past due to following what was popular and not that which was right. First it was native Americans, then Japanese Americans put in interment camps, the Communist list by McCarthism, the plight of African Americans in slavery but who dares to stand against doing harm to registered sex offenders? No preacher, no politician and few judges (thank God for the few judges). Proverbs 16:25 says, there is a way to a man that seems right but the end thereof is the ways of death (destruction). What feeds the fervor is the feeling of insecurity Americans have. They're not attending to their own children by being to busy on their I-phones and computers while junior is in his room being taken care of by the porn-site babysitter. Parents aren't in control so what better way than to outwardly blame and rip into some without face demonized villain (the registered sex offender)? Again remember these people have done their time, probation and therapy. Then there's the fear mongering media that leaves us all out in the cold. Where there is no trust in law enforcement, our government or anyone else. So, those that govern fight to make it just one more day by appeasing the populous by tougher and tougher laws. before it's all over we'll have a country no one wants and no one has the backbone or know how to change. Let's start now by ending the registry. Have a backbone and do what is right not what is popular. TRUTH


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"When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect."
~Adlia Stevenson U.S. Vice President (1893–1897) and Congressman (1879–1881)

On a Personal Note

Thanks for the opportunity to express my thoughts regarding the issue of citizens’ rights, particularly addressing certain sex offenders’ crimes that do not fit the devastating, inequitable and endless punishment given.

As you know, many young men and women lives across the nation are being destroyed by incarceration, life-time registry and restrictive laws that do more harm than good. For those individuals, there is no second chance.

Below is a personal letter to President Obama:
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“Dear President Obama,

I truly agree with your sentiments that individuals, such as ex-felons, should be able to receive a second chance at life. Since we all know that one can veer off that path of life and travel along rough, rocky terrain, sometimes running off and ending up in some ditch. We all have made our fill of mistakes and sometimes those held a costly consequence that changed life forever. So we lived through it, trying harder to make things right with family, friends and those around us, but what about those who aren’t able to make things right even if they tried…because they’re labeled as too dirty, a leper, a person who is rejected from society and home.

But what if they’re a seventeen year old and had sex with a fifteen year old, consensual at that? Or they’re a teen that had gotten so enraged after a breakup that he sent out naked pictures of his girlfriend on his cell phone or email? Or an individual urinates where someone just happens to see them?

All are wrong and a travesty but do they deserve the life of no second chance with a registry that ends all. They are labeled, no jobs, no where to live…they have been deemed a menace to society, a plague. These certain circumstances, and many other situations similar to these, I believe still deserve a second change.

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

After my son’s early release and two years of prison, I thought I had handled that fact graciously knowing after serving his time he would be able to get that fresh start, that second chance. He was an exemplary inmate, GED, college courses and vocational classes. Little did I know that a second chance on the outside was the farthest from the truth? He now struggles and lives in a trailer park sharing a trailer with another and surrounded by others in the same rocking boat, one to float endlessly in shark infested waters. I see him little because of probation requirements (he couldn’t live with us because we were 800 feet near a school). My family is afraid of what would happen to them if he lived with them…vigilantism. My son has no other place to stay since others condemn him of his crime that is screamed from the highest rooftop. Sex offender, sex offender!

Not all sex offenders are pedophiles or predators but some are simply young kids that make one stupid and rash decision that eventually changes everything, and they have no idea what they’ve done until their life is never their own. Exactly, where is that second chance for those sex-offenders who are lumped together with pedophiles and predators? Now, it makes me sick to think of my son’s future and many like him that are on the registry and many with no second chance…ever. I am asking you as a mother and as another concerned citizen of the United States that these laws are looked at again and taken into serious consideration in what they are doing to the Constitution of the United States, not for sex offenders in general but the future rights of every citizen, before anymore are put into effect. They unjustly strip an offender of their rights and place them in a guillotine that can be easily set off by anyone and at anytime. Where is the second chance for ex-sex offenders in the present, pending and future laws?”
* * * *
What truly saddens me is the weakness and deterioration of what the sex offense issue is doing to our once, great nation. Across Europe, others are seeing the injustice and disregard of rights, but we ignore this problem and it makes me wonder where humanity is heading….

We have become a hysterical society in which our latest witch-hunt is a sex offender--no matter his/her crime.

Below is a email sent from a foreign advocate to a father of a sex offender:
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“The tragic story of your son's death is just so sad that it's difficult to explain how. It was very hard to read your letters. It seems almost unbelievable that this can take place in a democracy! From our point of view, there is no justice in this. Not in any way: not for you, your son, the former girl friend – or even the state.

It is an abusive legal system. It seems barbaric. And we are so very sorry that this takes place. That's why it's so important for us to try to neutralize the debate with this…, hopefully making some changes. ….. to show the every day life of the sex offenders, trying to show how they keep on being punished, even after served prison time…..But we will for sure tell the story of the injustice that your son has been exposed to.”
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I appreciate everyone's commitment and backing to protect everyone's civil rights, plainly as noted in the Constitution of the United States and is presupposed, giving ALL men are “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”