The registry does not serve the purpose it was intended to serve. It was created as a knee-jerk reaction. It destroys way too many lives!! If there must be a registry keep it private for law enforcement only; not open to the public.
Last week, a couple was convicted for having consensual sex on a public beach. While their actions were thoughtless, criminal and deserving of some punishment, the harm caused to the public or their risk to the community does not warrant a life sentence on the Sex Offender Registry.
Florida’s public sex offender registry website is the State’s method of providing community notification of people in the community who have committed a “sex offense”. It is Florida’s method of complying with “Megan’s Law” the tool that was supposed to inform parents of who they are to watch out for in the community.
There are currently over sixty thousand individuals listed on Florida’s sex offender registry! They include child molesters alongside sexting teens. They include violent rapists alongside the couple who had sex on the beach. They represent dots on a map and names on a list, for life, irrespective of the seriousness of their crimes, how long they have lived offense free in the community or the level of risk they presently represent.
Sixty thousand individuals are a lot to track! But not all are in our communities. Florida keeps individuals on the registry who have left the state, are incarcerated, deported or even deceased! The tool that is supposed to inform parents of who to watch out for in the community is diluting our focus by including people who are no longer in the community.
Sex offenders are not a homogenous group. Not everyone on the list is a child molester, not everyone directly harmed someone and not everyone represents the same level of risk. Lumping everyone into the same basket who may or may not pose a likely risk or even be present in our community is unfair and it impairs a parent’s ability to distinguish the truly dangerous from everyone else.
It is time Florida fixed its sex offender registry and removed those who are no longer in the community, no longer dangerous or who never were dangerous in the first place.