Sunday, July 27, 2014

FAC President Letter to WPTV Reporters and Producers

Below is a letter sent on behalf of the Florida Action Committee by our president, Gail Colletta to WPTV, a local Palm Beach County station. The letter asks why the station keeps spewing out unbalanced, sensationalized stories when it comes to sex offender issues. Let’s see if they have the courage to respond.
WPTV Reporters and Producers,
As a long time viewer of your station I am growing more and more concerned regarding the lack of impartiality I am hearing in your reporting, especially when it comes to sex offender stories. I have been a viewer since 1994 when John and Roxanne just got there. I get the sensationalism which goes along with getting folks to tune in, what I don’t get is why you’re not reporting the whole story and the facts as are reported through empirical evidence on this population.
Not all “offenders” pose a public safety risk. Not all registered citizens are a danger nor are all those labeled any different than anyone else who has made a mistake.
Once someone has paid their debt to society they should be given the opportunity to be restored to the community.
Residency restrictions do not increase public safety, they in fact increase potential risk.
Research is very clear that stable housing, employment, connection to community and family lower risk.
This holds true for anyone, it’s a basic human need.
So if we continue to isolate former “offenders” and push them either to homelessness or to go underground we are setting us all up to fail.
Why are you not telling the entire story?
I commend Palm Beach County Commissioners for being courageous and taking a step in the right direction and changing the current ordinance to eliminate some of the homelessness in our county.
Facts :
6.7% of offenses against a victim under the age of 18 is by a stranger. (all of our legislation is targeted at this)
93%+ of all offenders are known to their victim.
48.7% are in positions of authority or are friends or acquaintances of their victims of which 46.8% are under the age of 18.
35.7% are in the victims family, either a blood relation or related through marriage. Of which 46.5% are victims under the age of 18.
15.6% are strangers to their victims of which 6.7% of the victims are under the age of 18.
And even more concerning is 24.6% of all sex offenders are they themselves under the age of 18.
95% of offenders are first time offenders, they are not on the registry, they are not subject to residency restriction and they will not show up as a “bad guy” on a back ground check.
So how do we protect our children?
Educate the families as to what to look for, provide additional services to at risk families and act as a community. Until we have a real public conversation about this issue the cycle of abuse will not be broken. Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, is the definition of “insanity”.
It seems to me there is so much more to the news worthiness of this issue and there are so many real experts on the subject that doing “man on the street” interviews with uninformed citizens and legislators who use this issue to drive public fear and self-promote themselves, is just continuing the fear factor.  You should be reporting on the truth and make a real difference.
The entire sex offender management scheme is based on flawed assumptions and is actually creating less safe communities placing our children and citizens at greater risk, spending huge sums of tax payer dollars without getting a return on our investment.
It’s time to discuss prevention and breaking the cycle of abuse. Stop vengeful legislation, support victims to survivors and restore citizens and families, as well as sentence and punish people based on real culpability and actual risk. We have the tools. The public should demand their legislators get the experts involved and stop listening to all of the emotional lobbying, stop allowing isolated, yet heinous events drive our society and policy.
For every $1 spent on prevention we save $34 in criminal justice.
For every 1% reduction in recidivism we save $8 million…
I look forward to hearing from you to discuss the facts.
Gail Colletta

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.”