Thursday, February 19, 2015

parking lots, bridges, and lean-to's: no home-sweet-home in Florida

Florida has extremely tough residency restrictions for sex offenders. Do they make the community safer? You tell me.
As a convicted sex offender, [he] was ordered to live in a small parking lot on Channelside Drive. 
[He] had been prosecuted for impregnating his 14-year-old girlfriend when he was 23, was sentenced to community control and probation. 
For refusing to stay for more than a few weeks in the empty lot, [he], 27, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison. 
On Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reluctantly upheld [his] punishment. 
“We are troubled by the fact that the terms of [his] community control have rendered him homeless,” the court wrote. “This does not appear to facilitate the goals of sex offender community control which are 'treatment of the offender and the protection of society.' ”
He had a van to sleep in but sleeping in a parking lot comes with its own dangers. How many of you would be willing to sleep in a parking lot for months or years? How secure would you feel?

His sentence for leaving the parking lot for the home of a family member--a safer location--was ten years; his original sentence for statutory rape didn't even include prison time. Insane that probation violations can draw a more severe sentence than the original crime did.

Richard Sanders, this man's public defender said this case is...
“not as unusual as you might think.” 
“These people that get these sex offender charges have very severe restrictions on where they can live, particularly if they're poor, as a large number of them are,” he said. “You only have a limited number of places where you can live. And if you can't afford to live there, what are you going to do?” 
Sanders previously represented another Hillsborough County sex offender, [ ] a house painter with an amputated arm and trouble finding a home and a job. [He] was forced to live in a lean-to next to a trash bin behind the probation office. 
The building owner didn't want [him]to live there, and he was told to find somewhere else to live.
Leaving sex offenders only parking lots, bridges, and lean-to's as living space certainly does nothing for community safety.

If the residence restrictions are not about safety, then it is clear that they are about marginalization and punishment. Sex offenders are easy targets because defending them is not generally well-received, even when facts show that registered sex offenders rarely commit another sex offense, that residency restrictions would not prevent anyone from committing another crime if he were so inclined and even when the facts show that stability--a home, a job, friends and family--is the best predictor of success for former offenders.

Marginalization is not about safety; it is about being allowed to be cruel to those on the registry.

Sanders, the public defender, said,
“Who wants to be the one to introduce a bill in the Legislature that relaxes some of these requirements? Soft on child molesters — who wants that? I think we're kind of stuck with this situation that's going to keep going and getting worse and worse and worse.”
Craven cowardice in the Legislature or deliberate evil?

You tell me.

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