Sunday, July 27, 2014

Does Miami-Dade Really Care About Children?

Posted by on July 23, 2014

Do Miami-Dade politicians really care about children or are they more about pandering to voters and punishing sex offenders? We are about to find out…

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving; in 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes, teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year and about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.

According to the  National Center on Child Abuse Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, over 1600 children die each year from parental abuse or neglect.

Injuries from firearms send an estimated 7,000 kids to the ER every year, and an additional 3,000 children die from gunshot wounds before they can get to a hospital, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Every day we hear about children killed from gang-related violence and over three quarter of a million children in the US are involved in a gang.

Then there’s the threat which the Miami Herald, just three months ago, called “the most prolific killers of children in Florida”. In 2013, more high school seniors regularly used marijuana than cigarettes as 22.7% smoked pot in the last month, compared to 16.3% who smoked cigarettes!

Florida has a history of passing laws in the name of children killed by sex offenders; the Jessica Lunsford Act and Megan’s Law to name a couple. These laws impose draconian restrictions on where former offenders can live or be present, it shames them by having their pictures on publicly indexed websites and isolates them from family, living or employment opportunities.

But as heinous and tragic as the underlying crimes were, these are extremely rare occurrences. Children are exponentially more likely to get killed by a DUI offender, gun offender, from gang violence or drugs. In fact, sex offenders have the second lowest rates of recidivism among all crimes!

Even after experts in sex offender management have studied the effectiveness of these laws and found them to be ineffective, these laws get passed and draconian punishments get imposed on the platform of, “…if it saves one child…”

Well, if the policy of “if it saves one child” is the justification for the restrictions on sex offenders, why don’t we establish a registry for those convicted of drug offenses, gang members, gun offenders, domestic abusers or people who’ve gotten DUIs? After all, our children are all more likely to get killed from these crimes and shouldn’t parents know if their neighbor had a DUI before they let their children ride their bikes outside? Why don’t we have them identified by a map along with their picture and address? Why would they be permitted to live within 2500 feet of a bar or establishment that serves alcohol and why don’t we brand their  licenses with ‘Drunk Driver”?

If it’s being done to sex offenders, we should implement the same to all offenders, especially where our children are more susceptible to harm. We should implement them immediately! We should impose the restrictions against anyone who ever got a DUI, no matter how long ago it was. We should name the law after a child killed by a drunk driver. They may not have been covered so prominently in the news, so you may not know their names, but there are hundreds of prospective names to chose from yearly.

A Texas Organization; Family Action Network (no affiliation with the Florida Action Committee) sent an email to every district in Miami-Dade County yesterday, challenging legislators to close the gaping loopholes in the Lauren Book Act by applying the same restrictions and 2500 buffer zones to those convicted of drug crimes, DUI, assault, gang offenses, domestic violence and more. After all, if children are exponentially more likely to die because of these monsters, wouldn’t it make sense to include them in the Act? If it saves one child it would be worth it!

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.

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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?”
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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.”