When Palm Beach County commissioners clamped down on sex offenders in 2006, they made little effort to conceal their punitive aim. From the public dais, one county commissioner referred to sex offenders as “animals.” Another urged her fellow commissioners to be “as tough as we possibly can be.”
By a unanimous vote, commissioners decided to more than double the restrictions on where in the unincorporated county registered sex offenders can live. State law already banned them from residing within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park or school bus stop. Under the county ordinance, that ban was now extended to 2,500 feet, driving many into homelessness or isolation in the county’s rural stretches.