The Dobbs Wire: Florida. Kudos to Florida Action Committee (FAC) for taking a strong stand against the sex offense registry! Florida’s registry is one of the largest in the country and elected officials are always looking for ways to make it even harsher. FAC is a statewide advocacy group, they’ve been around and working hard for a decade and now have a new battle cry. Please have a look at their powerful statement. Best of luck to our friends at FAC. –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire If you have something to say or would like to be on The Dobbs Wire list, drop us a line. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @thedobbswire
Florida Action Committee | September 6, 2022
Dear Members and Advocates,
Sometimes it is important to be direct. We start this week’s update with a clear and candid statement of our goal and a commitment to keep fighting until our goal is accomplished. Florida Action Committee’s position is that the Sex Offender Registry must be abolished. Over the coming weeks we will be working to update our website and our printed collateral to remove any reference to “reforming” the registry. The registry, in any form, is ineffective and does more harm than good. It needs to be done away with!
“Florida Action Committee (FAC) intends to inform the media, public, and legislators with facts versus myths about the sex offender registry and citizens forced to register. Registry schemes are proven to be harmful to society and unconstitutional. Therefore, FAC works to abolish the registry in Florida.”
Every state in this country has had a sex offender registry for at least a quarter century. That is enough time to evaluate the effectiveness of the registry. It is ineffective. There are currently approximately one million people registered as sex offenders or sexual predators. That is large enough of a sample size to evaluate recidivism rates. The recidivism rates of people with past sexual offenses is lower than any other class of offense other than murder. There are millions of family members, friends, employers, employees and other third parties who are impacted by having someone they live, work, or associate with on the registry. The collateral consequences of the registry creates innocent victims. And possibly the most compelling reason for abolishing the registry is the housing and employment instability and social ostracism resulting from being on the registry serves as a barrier for reentry and driver of re-offense. The registry makes the public less safe.
It is important to be crystal clear about our position on several other points as well. The Florida Action Committee does not defend sexual offending. We are vehemently against sexual assault in any form. We are not in any way affiliated with any organization that advocates for sexual relationships between adults and children. We believe in the criminalization of sexual offenses. We believe those who commit sexual offenses should be held accountable. We want a safer world and we support efforts that will reduce sexual offending.
To accomplish that, we recognize that the registry does not reduce sexual offending or improve public safety. We also recognize that the registry does not reduce repeat offenses. These two objectives are the stated legislative intent of the registry, but decades of research overwhelmingly tells us that the registry has failed to accomplish these objectives. Instead, the registry has done needless damage to the million people on it and their families. The registry has prevented people from reintegrating and becoming meaningful members of our communities. Given the fact that the sex offender registry has failed to make our communities safer in light of the significant harm it causes, it is time we abolish it completely.
We hope that this clearer position will be adopted by other advocacy groups dealing with the registry. To those groups we remind you that the empirical evidence does not support a registry. While it has been a belief that by proposing step-down approaches, such as “law enforcement only” registries or removing “some” from the registry it might be a more palatable position to take when going up against the popularity of the registry, this is a dangerous position to take. First, the suggestion that the sex offender registry should exist in any form only serves to validate “a registry”, when we know that it does not work. Second, while it is easy to throw a sub-group under the bus, historically registrants as a whole have been that sub-group when it comes to prison policy, voting, or other criminal justice reform measures and we know that does not work either. The registry defies research, it is unconstitutional and it is not the right thing to do. We must go all in!
Several events have taken place over the last few weeks that have reinforced our push to take a stronger stand and be more direct in our goal. The first has been the legislative ping-pong that has been taking place in the courts. Whether it’s the State Court in Pennsylvania or the 6th Circuit and Michigan, the Courts have found the registry to be unconstitutional and punitive and States have kept trying to go back to the drawing board to try to come up with tweaks to make them constitutional. There is no sense in trying to fix something that is irreparably broken and ineffective. The dialogue needs to change from “how can we fix this” to “why do we need this thing in the first place?” The second event was the heroic act of one individual in Oregon by the name of Donald Surrett. We wrote about Mr. Surrett more extensively here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/donald-surrett-is-a-hero/, but we will append that story with an important point. The argument for the registry has always been, “if it saves just one child…”. We now have evidence that Donald Surrett, “a registrant”, saved many men, women, and children. We have no evidence that the registry has saved any!
Please join us in supporting our mission.
Florida Action Committee