In 2020, an ordinance in Brevard County, Florida, permitted a business to certify itself as a place where children congregate—the moral equivalent of a park—thereby making it a crime for anyone on the sex offense registry to venture inside, or loiter nearby. The idea, apparently, was to make kids even safer from danger.
But, “proximity” laws prohibiting sex offenders from public places like playgrounds have not been shown to make kids any safer, says Emily Horowitz, a sociologist who researches sex offense law and policy.
At the same time, under this law, people on the registry have no way of knowing which businesses have self-certified themselves as child-gathering places. That means registrants don’t know which establishments they are barred from entering, or even going near. But if they get too close, they are violating their registration requirements, which could land them in prison.
“Protecting children from harm is a goal shared by all, but this law does nothing to advance that goal,” says Sandy Rozek, communications director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws. “It is a ‘feel-good’ law, not a ‘do-good’ law.”
Florida is that one state that I read that is constantly finding creative ways to violate Registrants just for the hell of it. They keep this up and we’ll have concentration camps – oh wait – we kinda do.
How does something like this survive and actual legal challenge? It’s ambiguous at best, and exceedingly restrictive as accounted by several of the statements in the article (preventing someone from going to a bank and hospital is ludicrous). Do they get away with this because there isn’t a Janice to actually challenge this in court? I can’t imagine any judge would OK stamp this.
This seems to be the crap part about legal system in general: ANY law can be created and implemented, and it’s up to someone else to actually challenge it. Our legal checks and balances are very poor. Laws should have to pass muster first, not months or years down the line after they grossly impacted people.
“Protecting” kids from registered persons makes about as much sense as more gun laws to prevent shootings. Its not the law abiding and responsible gun owners who are shooting kids in schools, just like its not registered persons who are assaulting kids. Laws don’t prevent crime. Registries don’t prevent crime. Laws only punish crime. Sure, some laws may make a person think twice, but a law on the books is not going to prevent someone hell bent on breaking that law. Does a stop sign at an intersection prevent anyone from not coming to a complete stop? We’re all guilty of rolling through a stop sign, even though its a law. I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a bit of a lead foot. I often drive over the posted speed limit even though there are laws in place.
For businesses that want to ban paying customers, I think its BS, but fine. We’ll take our money to businesses that appreciate respectful paying customers.
So a registrant wont be able to go buy groceries or hygiene supplies. Go buy clothes or go to the doctor. Hmmm….sounds like punishment to me.
And the first time someone accuses the owner or employee of a crime against a minor…
Sounds like a list of businesses to harm. I love that idea. Identify the immorals and go to work.
I wonder if there are any places in Florida where children can be safe from drunk drivers??? You know….for the next time Ron Book goes on a bender and gets behind the wheel. Just sayin’…
I can see this getting overturned the first time they try to enforce it and arrest a PFR. You can’t refuse service without identifying the reason. The “no shoes” policy has to at least have a posted sign. If they decide it is legal, then the city needs to post the businesses they have allowed to do this. As well as keep the list updated. They are unknowingly painting targets on these businesses and should anticipate vandalism.
BTW, are they going to arrest a 10 yr old that is on the list for trying to buy an ice cream with their friends?
Here’s what you do. You bring a bus load of kids to the business, then let them play and loiter around. When the owner complains, you tell them it’s designated as a park, so the kids are allowed to be there.
John Tobia, member of the Broward County board of commissioners and the sponsor of this law, was a roommate and close friend of Matt Gaetz, who has been accused of engaging in sex with and pimping of underage prostitutes. Tobia himself has also been recorded making inappropriate comments about his female students (he’s a college professor).
How about comparing offender child related crimes against the number of children in Florida that have been killed by gun violence.
Even in Florida, this might get overturned in court due to being so vague and impossible for someone on the registry to know about. Unless they post a sign on the door barring entry to registered persons, how would anyone know they couldn’t enter?
Of course, businesses can legally discriminate against anyone or refuse service to anyone, unless it’s for one of few protected things like race or religious discrimination, so ultimately I suspect it will just turn into another sign posted at the entry to many businesses.
What’s to stop a strip joint from deciding to self-declare as a park to keep out registered citizens? Based on the way the law seems to be written it has nothing to prevent it. While it may conflict with licensing requirements for the establishment it also is not precluded by the law allowing self-designation as a park. Yes, I am offering this as an absurd example, but legally permissible by the statute.
I think FL, in the long-run, may be doing us a favor with their batsh!t rules and laws. Eventually, this steaming pile of excrement known as a State will have to defend these things in court.
Immediately I was struck with two things wrong with this concept, one of which they partially fixed.
1) Parks are a “traditional public forum” so the State has the burden of saying why it needs to infringe on the citizen’s First Amendment rights of Speech and Assembly. (They appear to have partially the violation of the Right to Petition.)
2) The law is vague and arbitrary, preventing a citizen from being able to know how to comply–they even admit it themselves with their “disclaimer”! The only way a citizen can ensure compliance is to over-self-regulate, something the courts (typically) frown upon.