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Lawmakers Compromise on Sex Offender Bill

Lawmakers reached a tentative compromise Tuesday on a measure that would ban sex offenders from loitering in areas frequented by children and also set a minimum statewide buffer zone on how close offenders can live to schools and day cares.

The measure, which has been before the Legislature in past years, threatened to implode last week, as last minute amendments were offered, setting the stage for the same political fights that have derailed the bill in past years. Lawmakers were all in agreement over a provision that prohibits sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of places frequented by children such as a school bus stop, a day care or a play ground.

But the part tripping up the proposal involved restrictions on how close a sex offender could live to a school or day care center. Lawmakers initially set out to create a uniform, statewide standard of 1,000 feet, but counties, including Miami-Dade, wanted their tougher restrictions to stay in place.

The compromise agreed upon by lawmakers would set a minimum 1,000 foot standard for the state, but still allow counties to enact tougher residency restrictions, up to 2,500 feet.

Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, one of the bill sponsors said that he wanted a firm statewide standard, but that the compromise was a step in the right direction.

“We want to have a system where we know where sex offenders are after they are released from prison,” he said.

Florida has gotten national attention over its sex offender laws. In Miami, where the 2,500 residency restriction is in place, a colony of homeless people settled under the Julia Tuttle Causeway over the past several years. They are currently being moved into housing, and Miami officials hope the settlement will be completely destroyed by the end of the month.

Courtenay Strickland, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that a uniform, statewide policy would better serve Florida and that many counties could go to the maximum residency restriction, creating future housing problems for sex offenders.

“At the worst, this would invite counties to go up to 2,500 feet if they have not already done so,” she said.

Lobbyist Ron Book, who has advocated in the past for measures against sex offenders, hailed the bill as possibly “the most important public safety bill” lawmakers will examine all session. The loitering portion of the legislation is particularly important, he said.

“Predators and offenders went around saying, ‘ha ha ha, we can do whatever we want during the day,’” Book said.

The measure (SB 1284) passed by a 7-0 vote, but faces future tests in Senate Community Affairs, Senate Judiciary, Senate Criminal and Senate Civil Justice Appropriations. The House version (HB 119) passed the Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee, but still is set to go before the Military & Local Affairs Policy Committee, Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, and the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council.

18 Responses »

  1. I personally detest the fact that Mr Book feels he can speak for me. I made a dumb mistake over ten years ago.. chatted inapproapriately only..and forevermore my life is significantly changed...I do NOT want sympathy, nor do I want these laws changed (ex post facto). It is hard enough to find a way to support myself and my family. Mr Books and many others are riding a very public forum to make the public afraid of the boogie man. Take some time and go to SOSEN.COM to get some more accurate information on the subject. The media has an adgenda.. as does Mr Books. EDUCATE YOURSELF!!

  2. I sponsored and passed legislation that regulated the distance that a sex offender could reside from a school, playground AND BUS STOP, which was not in the original legislation. A BUS STOP IS A PLACE WHERE CHILDREN REGULARLY CONGREGATE AND WHERE PREDATORS CAN "SCOUT' THEIR PREY..THAT BILL WILL SAVE A GREAT MANY OF OUR CHILDREN FROM THESE VISCIOUS ASSAILANTS.

  3. Mr Kravitz, Your goals are honorable, your limitations being placed considerable. A bus stop is NOT the same as a SCHOOL BUS STOP!!! As I indicated in my first post, the limitations placed are beyond comprehension until you get there. IF you outlaw bus stops, how do these individuals get from place to place.. oh wait.. I know.. WALK???? I also ask that you take the time to look at the SOSEN site. I only have one real question to ask Mr Kravitz.... WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INFORMATION FROM??? I would love to compare. again GET EDUCATED and stop making emotional commitments for others.

    • perhaps the legislation that is needed, Mr. Kravitz, is to begin to deliniate the sex-offender/predator crimes … for example, when a robbery is committed, i believe (not an expert) that depending on what is done in the robbery, no violence, violence with hands, violence with knives, or violence with a gun would each be treated differently in terms of the crime assigned (e.g. misdemeanor vs felony, that kind of thing) as well as the sentencing (crimes with a gun, for example, have a stricter punishment. perhaps what not a reoffender is bringing to light is that we need to distinguish between perverts and then punish more appropriately) perhaps not a reoffender could be part of the solution by joining with advocates like kravitz and book, who are clearly working hard to protect innocent children who are vulnerable, and try to help them write legislation that will begin to resolve these dilemmas while not leaving our innocents unprotected. also, fyi--your ref ro sosen is a geneology site ???

      • http://www.sosen.org is the correct site address. Concerned Aunt.. your comments are much more accurate. There are many levels of offense... currently the laws dont reflect much difference between an offender and a preditor.

  4. Well Not A ReOffender I understand how you must feel .But you have been( rightly or wrongly ) clumped together with the lowest scum of life and now you must suffer more, if keeping you away from a bus stop keeps the perverts away from my kids then so be it!. i would rather keep you less free and keep my kids safe. But i agree just chatting in a chat room should not get you in that mix, but we also don't know what was being said in that room and with whom and if arraignments had been made . Let your pain be a lesson for the next pervert!

  5. I think anyone that feels the farther a distance a sex offender lives from a bus stop, makes them safer. has a fool for a teacher. One can only hope that the kids don't get run over by one of Floridas 100s of thousands of drunk drivers on the way to their pretend safe zones.

    • I do Realize that the distance does not equate to safety and perverts can lurk anywhere, My kids Know there is strength in numbers and most perverts could care less about the rules when they need a Fix... And Not A ReOffender don't talk to me about drunk drivers ,that is another problem that needs solving And let me be clear ! don't care about bus stop or school bus stop Stay away until you get the Scarlet letter off your record.

  6. Just Peeved... I can appreciate your concern.. but have you taken any time to see what is required to designate a SCHOOL bus stop? This legislation states BUS STOPS... that would include public transit.. As much grief as it causes me.. I prefer the public be made aware of the living locations not limiting the locations.. oh.. and if anyone reads the Terms of Service for Facebook and/or Myspace.. sex offenders are not allowed.. and they look for them routinely.. I have neither.. and another law on the books wont change who breaks the laws already enacted.

  7. Florida is a dumping ground for every offender from every state. Laws must be tougher and strictly enforced. Those convicted in other states should have a moritorium against them from moving in. "Not a ReOffender"? If you have a problem with your status then take it up with the legislators, Your problem with being a designated sex offender is not my neighborhood's and not my families problem. The people of this state cant afford any more offenders or any more considerations towards them. The " I made a dumb mistake 10 years ago" comes across like an afterthought that should have little or no consequense, well I got news for you, most of us go our entire lives and make plenty of "dumb mistakes" that doesnt mean we find ourselves on a sex offender registry. Not a ReOffender, your more dangerous than most, the more you continue to minimalize or trivialize your status the more some of us find suspect with anything you write.

    • I think Florida is a great place for all offenders to live, i tell them all the time it's warmer there, and they should move there.

    • That is an interesting statement. FL is a dumping ground allegedly, when in fact FL has some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country, why do you think that is. For one thing, people like the man commenting here are lumped in with Child Porn freaks and child rapists and murderers. Furthermore, Florida plays cute little games with registration, changing periodicity and paperwork as a pretense to get offenders back in jail. This makes the truly dangerous ones even harder to track down.

    • And Ms Parkhurst, your comments got more and more hostile as your post continued. I do see that you have an opinion.. a very strong one.. and no matter how much "fact" is provided, your not interested in hearing it. OH and regret.. you have no idea how much regret I harbor.. the pain caused to my family, friends, associates and least of all to my self.. why didnt I mention a victim? Because the person I was communicating with online was part of a sting operation.. and I continued to communicate.. when I knew I should just end the conversation.. but that was then..this is now.. Then I could have had a victim.. now I know better.. and dont go to the places where I might even start to get interested.. so your family is safe.. your neighborhood is safe.. and you can calm down.. I am not your Boogeyman.

      • Isnt that what the first rule of "Sosen" is? Change the victim from male to female and up the age and or Tell everyone you were caught in a " Internet Sting" operation..Sex offender sites are notorious for teaching "how to" explain your Status..with the incentive "heck, you will have these people feeling sorry for you, if you tell it right"...or "my story got so convincing, People were letting me watch their kids"...yea yea a sting operation my backside...

  8. perhaps the legislation that is needed, Mr. Kravitz, is to begin to deliniate the sex-offender/predator crimes ... for example, when a robbery is committed, i believe (not an expert) that depending on what is done in the robbery, no violence, violence with hands, violence with knives, or violence with a gun would each be treated differently in terms of the crime assigned (e.g. misdemeanor vs felony, that kind of thing) as well as the sentencing (crimes with a gun, for example, have a stricter punishment. perhaps what not a reoffender is bringing to light is that we need to distinguish between perverts and then punish more appropriately? perhaps not a reoffender could be part of the solution by joining with advocates like kravitz and book, who are clearly working hard to protect innocent children who are vulnerable, and try to help them write legislation that will begin to resolve these dilemmas while not leaving our innocents unprotected?

  9. Ridiculous. I am willing to bet that Book and all the others marching for tougher and tougher sanctions on sex offenders is without a doubt no saint, and in fact I'm willing to bet that Book and all his fellow marchers are guilty of even MORE offences than some under the sex ofender registry have actually been convicted of. It's just that Book and all the other marching morons have not been drawn into the judicial system the way others unfortunately have. You see, Book and the morons feel that somehow they have some kind of immunity to the very laws they march in support of but just wait until they're behind closed doors. Come on now, these people are not saints by any stretch of the imagination and it would be utterly foolhardy to ever believe that they would be for one solitary second. I get so totally tired of preachers and marchers who speak out against the very things they may be guilty of in secret, and I'm sick of people who preach but can't practice what they preach. No one on this Earth is perfect, even these political morons who take up the time of our political forums with issues are not perfect and by no means free of any adjudicatable guilt, under the very laws they stand for!!!

    But on closer note of topic, it states in Florida's constitution that once someone has served a sentence, that's it, man. The offender cannot be retried nor re-punished, nor can the punishment within the duration of the sentence to be served extend anything beyond the end of the sentence. The registry laws as they are set even now, go against the Constitution and prevents ex-offenders from ever getting back to any kind of productive life. In fact the laws prohibit what has been set forth by the Constitution and the laws are counter-productive to what re-integration programs are supposed to represent.

    If this bill passes the Senate or whatever and gets signed into Law then be prepared to see alot more homeless, and I mean ALOT more, and also be prepared to hear it from Law enforcement the problems they are having tracking these offenders on a day-to-day basis because at once they had a solid place to live and now they don't. Just like that. Taxpayers also gotta think of the ever-increasing expense needed for research on technologies and programs to track all these thousands, perhaps MILLIONS of homeless, it's gonna be a mess if the bill passes. A big mess, all at the hands of a selfish law that dictates an ex-offender suddenly has no place to stay, litterally, while the selfish who are responsible for writing and lobbying for the bill go about their self-indulging and putridly perverted trysts.

  10. Ok bottom line, there should be a tier system as there is with every other crime. I personally have not gone to sosen yet but I don't make lite of what I did. Even still whether I deserved punishment or not, I was 17 and the girl I had consentual sex with was 15. Her parents called the police I was tried as an adult at 19 because of all the continuances. Anyways I agree that pedophiles should be castrated or burned, literally! But I'm not one of them and shouldn't be grouped with them. Nor should I have to pay for having consentual sex as a mino, for life. And to those who say "it's not my problem" or "you should pay so my kids are safe" a) it's nice to see how much you care about a fellow human being in pain and b) it does affect you and you should freaking care... It could very very well be your own children in my exact situation. I'm not the only one, but I also see how some horrible people change their stories to sound like mine and I don't appreciate that either. Basically, once again - tier system, and castrate or kill anyone who forces a sexual act on ANYONE! (period)