If you have a few minutes, read Florida’s Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review 2018 (www.oppaga.state.fl.us). Even if you don’t live in Florida, it’s an interesting slog thru what governmental bureaucracy thinks is important when it comes to the registry.
The highlight of this auditing monstrosity is the attached letter at the end of the report from Fl. Dept. of Law and Enforcement to the coordinator of the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Governmental Accountability, stating “the registry is a valuable public safety tool”.
I read the report in its entirety. I didn’t find any evidence of a valuable public safety tool.
What I did find was much to the contrary.
Here is an audit that divides folks into categories with labels, either you’re a “sexual offender” or a “sexual predator”. In an age where we are all about political correctness, those labels don’t make registrants feel any safer. We are “the public”, aren’t they concerned for our public safety?
The audit notes that there are more than 73,000 “sex offenders” and “predators” in Fl. but that the majority “don’t live among the public in Fl.” Instead, the audit notes, many live in other states or have gone back to prison. First of all, registrants take umbrage with leper-like statements such as “don’t live among the public.” Certainly, some registrants have been forced into homelessness or living on the fringes of society because they are on the registry, but there are just as many that have reintegrated back into society and are doing a damn fine job of living. And “gone back to prison” is a scare tactic used to encourage the public to believe that a registrant has repeated a “sex offense” when in fact they may be back in prison on a non-related probation violation or some other ridiculous technicality.
No, this isn’t sounding like a public safety tool at all.
Online maps, banishment laws, timelines, demographics and registrants fees are included in the audit. Map legend icons designate locations where registrants live as blue roofed houses for “sex offenders” and red roofed houses for “sexual predators”. And, believe it or not, there are teeny tiny tents for transients. Where’s the public safety tool for registrants that have to live in tents, for those who can’t find housing because of all the registry rules, regulations and boundaries?
One sentence of the report did contradict the audit’s findings. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering & Tracking Office (SMART), “research shows residency restrictions don’t decrease and are not a deterrent for sexual recidivism” and other research also indicates “no significant decreases in sex crimes following implementation of residency restrictions.” OK, we’ll allow that governmental dept. to keep the SMART moniker.
Registrants and their families are “the public”. A public registry that puts registrants, their spouses and their children in danger every day, is not and never will be a “valuable public safety tool.”