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National

FL: Fort Lauderdale opening more neighborhoods to sex offenders with change in strict law

[sun-sentinel.com – 6/7/19]

There are no homes at 2700 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Although the only buildings standing are a McDonald’s and a Chick-fil-A, 110 people have registered it as an address.

All of them are convicted sex offenders.

This hot spot for sexual criminals is one of several along Federal Highway in northeast Fort Lauderdale, one of the few slivers in the city where a registered sex offender or sexual predator — rapists, molesters, child porn addicts — can legally reside.

That will change soon. The city tentatively has agreed to relax its restrictive sex offender laws, opening up more of the city where offenders can legally live.

The current law leaves just 1.4 percent of Fort Lauderdale for legal residence. Sex offenders and the more dangerous sexual predators can’t live within 1,400 feet of a school bus stop, park, day care, playground or school.

The law is so restrictive, it’s not legally defensible, City Attorney Alain Boileau told commissioners Tuesday. One Broward County judge already has ruled against the city in a challenge.

“It makes it very difficult for our law enforcement to go out and enforce it with any meaningful punch,” Boileau said.

 

The city’s northeast is home to upscale neighborhoods, whose residents have grown concerned about homeless people in the area. Occasionally they see small encampments: clothes on an outdoor line behind a business, people sleeping, garbage strewn about.

As of this month, 201 sex offenders are registered as transients along the stretch of Federal Highway from Oakland Park Boulevard south to Northeast 26th Street, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Mary Peloquin, president of the Coral Ridge Association, said the issue first came to her attention in 2017, after a registered sex offender was accused of raping a woman just east of Federal Highway. She wondered about other sex offenders in the area and was dismayed at what she found on the state’s searchable database.

Peloquin noticed an increase in transients after a homeless camp in downtown Fort Lauderdale was emptied in November. She supports the relaxing of the law, to give people more housing options.

Peloquin said she found it strangely unfair that offenders “be given such a slim chance to get their feet back on the ground and start a good life.”

Commissioner Heather Moraitis, who represents and lives in the part of the city with the cluster of offenders, said the current law led to homelessness of sex offenders, a dangerous proposition.

“My goal isn’t necessarily to disperse them throughout the city as much as to get them into housing, whatever that may be,” Moraitis said. “I think that’s really the goal. I’m not saying I don’t want them in my backyard.”

Of the homeless sex offenders, nearly 80 percent of them are registered to Fort Lauderdale addresses, according to the Florida Action Committee. The city attracts more homeless people because of its easier access to food kitchens, the courthouse and mass transit, among other reasons. The Main Jail also is in Fort Lauderdale.

But Moraitis said none of the city-funded services to help homeless people, including shelters and a day respite center, can be used by convicted sex offenders. Federal law also bans them from subsidized housing and requires them to make early accommodations if they think they will need to use an emergency shelter.

The state Legislature’s research arm, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, points to residency restrictions as the biggest factor leading to an increase in offender homelessness.

Mayor Dean Trantalis said he didn’t want the city’s pending action to be misinterpreted. The city has no choice because its current law is unconstitutional, he said.

“We don’t want to open the door to sexual offenders, or predators thinking that Fort Lauderdale is a welcoming place,” Trantalis argued.

Read the full article

 

 

Join the discussion

  1. SR

    “Sex offenders and the more dangerous sexual predators can’t live within 1,400 feet of a school bus stop, park, day care, playground or school.”

    What does this mean? Are there “dangerous sexual predators” that are not sex offenders?

  2. Tim

    All are ado to poor leadership choices to begin with. Originally taking the short term advantage over the long terms disadvantage. Just like NAFTA! More proof of lawlessness embedded intrinsically into the registration regime. Ironically overturning laws based on constitutional inconsistencies IS LAWLESSNESS IN ITSELF!

  3. Eric

    This month marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In 1969 New York had a number of anti-gay laws. Gays were not allowed to be in a place where alcohol was served and they weren’t allowed to be served alcohol. The Stonewall pub was known to violate this ordinance. So on June 28th the police raided it and began arresting gays. This started a spontaneous backlash that resulted in a riot. This was the beginning of the gay rights movement to protest these discriminatory and oppressive and ludicrous laws.

    I believe that that is what it is going to take. The registry laws are designed to keep people who committed a sex offense at one time in their life from uniting, communicating, and interacting. They are prevented form working, getting educated, living where they choose, going where they chooose, from having private relationships, and so much more. This is by design.

    I know that a public march will get much scorn–at first. But those who are courageous will soon get a following. This is what it is going to take. As long as we allow them to abuse us, punish us, discriminate against us, and oppress us from embracing our rights as citizens then they will continue to do it to us.

    I do not advocate any type of violence, but we are supposed to have a constitutional right to peaceful assembly. I believe many would be arrested for participating in the assembly just as many of the civil rights activists were, but as our numbers reach one million on the registry this year, I do believe the time is right. We have endured enough. I am a good man, I am not a threat to anyone, I deserve the same freedoms as everyone else.

  4. AJ

    Hard to believe two citizens (with minor measures of authority, no less) actually see and admit the problem:
    *****
    [Coral Ridge Association President] Peloquin said she found it strangely unfair that offenders “be given such a slim chance to get their feet back on the ground and start a good life.”

    Commissioner Heather Moraitis, who represents and lives in the part of the city with the cluster of offenders, said the current law led to homelessness of sex offenders, a dangerous proposition.
    *****
    I again feel these words would never have come out of their mouths even five years ago. An extremely minor shift, perhaps, but I still see it as a shift.

    • Will Allen

      I wouldn’t get too excited about these two. I’m sure they would be happy if all the “$EX offenders” were “returned” to prison “where they belong”. But best case, they just don’t want to see any homeless people. Those “people” are “animals”, especially if they are “$EX offenders”. I’m certain that is exactly how those two feel.

      I found the most outrageous part of the article to be, “But Moraitis said none of the city-funded services to help homeless people, including shelters and a day respite center, can be used by convicted sex offenders. Federal law also bans them from subsidized housing and requires them to make early accommodations if they think they will need to use an emergency shelter.”

      Just wow. Is anyone shocked that Nanny Big Government has made a list of people of whom all kinds of taxpayer funded services can simply be denied? Wow. When I read these things, I completely understand how our country just loved segregation of the races not so long ago. What a bunch of awful, stupid scumbags.

      I tried to post a different comment earlier that expressed what I thought about this but ACSOL felt it was too violent. I guess I kind of get that. However, people need to realize that when they read comments here or likely just about anywhere else, you aren’t seeing full reality. You are seeing a censored, moderated version of reality. Which is what a lot of people want.

      Just have to say that today I have a great life and a lot to lose. And more importantly, my family does. But one day, I won’t have anything to lose. I will be on death’s door. I will have protected my family. Then I expect to flourish.

    • TS

      @AJ, et al,

      “Book” of the month club obviously will go to that area of Florida and do the normal work in that area to taint or even move along elected officials to a more favorable party line. Nothing to see here….

    • Joe

      “the current law led to homelessness of sex offenders, a dangerous proposition.”

      Given that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse takes place in homes – the victim’s or the perpetrator’s, most likely that being the same residence – would homelessness, while not the best for property values, not be the safest living situation for a sex offender?

    • Tim

      Your point to quote his words, “..be given such a slim chance…” implicates social mobility ( opportunity not result) !

      This is the real agenda, it is purely political.

  5. Dustin

    “We don’t want to open the door to sexual offenders, or predators thinking that Fort Lauderdale is a welcoming place,” Trantalis argued.

    As though registrants are welcomed with open arms everywhere else…

    I take that as a tacit acknowledgement that the ordinance was more about banishment than “public protection.”

    • Tim

      Justin,
      “Assisting law enforcement” via unfettered use of electronic database & device.
      Including Continuous search, warrantless search, unreasonable search for seizure, and domestic electronic surveillance by the state’s & federal surveillance saints. There may be no greater affront to a human’s individual liberty than to indenture human to it AND it’s necessary maintenance. Free men are paid wages for the like. Personal data IS a market.

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