By JAY STAPLETON
DAYTONA BEACH -- A compromise bill moving through the Florida Legislature would sharpen definitions of where sex offenders can live but also prohibit them from "loitering or prowling" in areas where children are found.
The measure, Senate Bill 1284 and its House companion, HB 119, have lurched forward this session with political tweaks to the language along the way. Similar measures have been pushed in recent years but shot down.
"It's not perfect, but it does tighten up some things," said local Public Defender Jim Purdy, vice president of the Florida Public Defender Association. "A person that has to obey this statute will have a better idea of what he or she can or cannot do."
The bill would specifically define places sex offenders cannot live, including near child-care facilities, playgrounds and schools. Under the old law, broad terms like "day care center" and "places where children congregate," caused some confusion among offenders trying to find homes.
Although the provision that adds a loitering-and-prowling restriction gave Purdy some "heartburn" because of potential constitutional challenges, he said the bill is "a step in the right direction."
In recent years, local people released from prison as sex offenders have found it difficult to find suitable places to live, as cities created ordinances to keep them out.
In 2006, sex offender _____ was told he could no longer live in his home in Ormond Beach because a new city ordinance extended the buffer between sex offenders and schools, parks and day care centers to 2,500 feet.
A year later, the local courts were faced with a flood of sex offenders who were being jailed because they couldn't find places to live. South Florida made national headlines when sex offenders were housed beneath a bridge because of a 2,500-feet residency restriction for offenders.
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union (Contact) have debated that a 1,000-foot rule statewide would protect the rights of offenders to find housing.
"We would have to see how (the proposed restrictions) would be enforced before we could evaluate them," said Brandon Hensler, director of communications for the ACLU of Florida in Miami.
Under the bill, counties and cities will be prevented from passing local ordinances that add to the list of places defined by the law. But, Purdy said, the law would allow cities to increase their buffer zones to 2,500 feet.
The bill would allow sex offenders already living in a house to stay if a child-care facility, school or playground is built nearby.
In the past, officials said citizens were getting permits to operate day-care centers as an effort to force offenders living near them to move.
"That has been cured by this," Purdy said. "The bill will close some of the problem issues and make it more understandable."
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
This is also insane! Why should Florida still debate about where sex offenders live? It won't prevent more sex offenses from occuring.
Look at California. Jessica's Law didn't prevent the deaths of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King. It would not have prevented the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. In fact, it also did not prevent the murder of Somer Thompson in Floriduh of all places. Floriduh and all other conservative states should START OVER!
Yes, they would need more prisons, but they should also stop begatting abuse, and provide for more mental health.
Let's look at two cases in Floriduh that don't include SEX! Casey Anthony, and Misty Croslin are in jail. Casey is awaiting trial for her murder of her daughter Caylee Anthony, while Misty Croslin is a person of interest in the disappearance of Haleigh Cummings. The problem with these two are that either they were abused as children or they suffer from mental health issues. Outwardly, Anthony and Croslin were more interested in "partying" than taking care of their kids.
GUESS FUCKING WHAT? When you have a child, especially at an early age, YOUR PARTYING DAYS ARE OVER! They probably were on drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their bipolar disorder. It's time that Floriduh should concentrate on abuse and mental health issues, sex or no sex, before they enact any Gestapo regulations.
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