It's the High Noon of Sex Offender Laws.
The Julia Tuttle Gang vs. a couple of Sunshine State lawmaking Davids.
As a member of the Florida Netroots, I'm challenging state Senator David Aronberg and Representative David Simmons to utilize this moment to propose research-based laws and turn this nightmare around.
Time to get it right, gentlemen.
A bit of background...
The eviction of the congregation of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway has caused the Miami problem to move...to the backyards of other Florida communities.
Miami trumped the state of Florida by upping residency restrictions for sex offenders, from 1000 feet from where children are known to frequent to 2500 feet, making calling Miami home virtually impossible for those Floridians convicted of a sex offense...many who have never touched anyone--much less a child--physically.
Hey, other cities thought--NIMBY mentality sounds pretty good. Banishment--although unconstitutional-- from one's community suddenly appeared all the vogue for many sister municipalities who followed the lead of their South Florida sibling, causing many offender residents unable to find housing.
The thinking of these cities plain and simple--if we make it legally impossible for "these people" to live in our cities fair, our kids will be totally safe. (Choosing--quite conveniently-- to overlook the simple research-based fact that most cases of sexual abuse are instigated by a family member or someone known to the family).
Well, this Pleasantville thinking didn't quite pan out. Bridges became Home Sweet Home while others did exactly what the FDLE warned politically correct legislators of.
Offenders broke the registration laws and went underground.
Here's the good in all this.
Florida lawmakers now get a chance to give themselves politically safe permission to back up--paint themselves out of the We Screwed Up Large corner-- and create better sex offender laws based on real education and facts, research and current knowledge detailing the effectiveness of such laws to protect children while considering the absolute collateral damage--and infringement of privacy rights-- suffered from families living with those forced to register.
Florida state Senator Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, is about to propose a bill that would would create a uniform statewide standard and prevent sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet from places children frequent.
Dave's effort to replace all the local ordinances with a single state law has legal grounding. Last year, a Duval County judge ruled that state standards trump those of local governments when it comes to monitoring sex offenders.
Apparently, that ruling is what Dave's been waiting for. Remember Froggers, legislators can easily pass laws but to get rid of the worst-that takes the courts to strike 'em down. We're talking considerable time and with these particular laws, finding an attorney to represent such "leper cases" is substantially difficult--simply because our lawmakers have lied to us about the truth regarding these laws.
On with the bad.
House Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, also would increase the use of electronic devices to track offenders.
This is where Aronberg lets Florida down with the equivalent of the I didn't inhale explanation.
He indicates when offenders are homeless, they often are unable to charge the batteries that power their ankle monitors.
Of the 30,000 plus listed on the Florida Sex Offender Registry, only three percent of those forced to register are truly dangerous.
The streakers, the law enforcement chat roomers stingees, the Romeo and Juliets are hiding the faces of the John Couey's that live among us.
Florida's broad range of sex offenses has entrapped thousands of citizens to never ending punishment where finding employment that pays the rent--if a house can be found--a constant underemployment fact of life.. and now, Simmons wants to add an ankle bracelet?
The FDLE informed Simmons while seated in committee of this simple fact back in 2005. But lobbyists like Ron Book keep our lawmakers in professional tow with the big campaign bucks and the heavy lean, preventing the total overhaul with the foresight of true kid protection first and foremost.
Then, there's a little problem of too-many ankle bracelets lying around Florida, unused because judges are well aware of the social impact on a person required to wear such.
So Simmons wants to mandate the ankle bracelets, forcing judges to comply, eliminating judicial discretion.
David Simmons is demonstrating parental vote mongering as its best.
Time to get smart, Florida lawmakers. The answers may not be easy, but better answers abound.
Aronberg appears on the right track, but through collusion with David Simmons, Aronberg is simply a classic political recidivist.
Dave Aronberg is best advised to sever his good from Simmons' bad.
Read more about America's Dirty Litte Secret here.