Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Anecdotes on Sex Offender Registrations

Sex offenders will be at least temporarily barred from moving into a neighborhood that has become a haven amid growing living restrictions across South Florida. The county agreed to a 90 day abatement until they could create a task force for long term answers.

John Rodstrom proposed the measure, pointing out that an over concentration of sex offenders in one small community was not just scaring families, but driving property values down, inhibiting people from moving in and was just plain unfair to the community of Broadview Park.

Broadview Park is a small working class neighborhood no larger than a square mile, yet it's home to 5 percent of all sexual offenders in Broward. Under the temporary rules, sex offenders cannot move to a home within 2,500 feet of a school, day care center, park, bus stop or playground in any unincorporated area.

Broward County commissioners agreed to create a task force to look at long-term answers to issue of where sex offenders live. Commissioners Lois Wexler and Ilene Jacobs incisively pointed out that 'distance restrictions' create a false sense of security, because offenders on probation can still get in their cars and go to parks. It is not a real answer, and they were very sophisticated in their approach. They did not just parrot the popular pablum. Applause. The majority of speakers agreed, from sex offenders to sex therapists.

I spoke at the meeting because I don't want to pass laws which lead to us having people wind up sleeping under bridges like Miami. I don't think you can supervise an offender, who needs supervision, when they are living under an overpass. It is hard to have a gps hooked up to a light pole under a bridge.

Two other things come to mind. We should trust our judicial system. The offenders who are released are individuals who either finished their time, or a court and prosecutor agreed were legitimate candidates for probation. They are already inhibited by a vast body of supervisory regulations, from reporting to counseling to ankle bracelets to day monitoring to scarlet letter stamps on drivers' licenses. The penalties for sex offenders are the most severe in the state and yet you get all these studies showing that they could be your grandfather more than an unknown assailant.

So I was just thinking I would rather have state reporting requirements telling me where the known convicted crack addicts and burglars are that are living in my neighborhood. Those are the recidivists whose conduct places my property and home in jeopardy and safety in question. Those are the ones who affect not small populations but large groups and vast neighborhoods. Maybe we have done this ass backwards. Maybe instead of registering sex offenders we should have registered known burglars.

Just a are Michael Mayo's in the Sun Sentinel,0,4324410.column

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