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October 19, 2007

The practical consequences of residency restrictions

This new CNN piece, headlined "Trailer park becomes 'paradise' for sex offenders," highlights one of the many collateral consequences of sex offender residency restrictions.  Fortunately, the story is a bit more positive than the headline suggests.  Here is how it begins:

It's a community that seems serene, with just a wind chime breaking the silence.  But look again and you will see many residents wearing ankle monitor systems that alert authorities if they wander too far away.  Nearly half the residents of the Palace trailer park are convicted sex offenders.

Ninety-five of these 200 residents are convicted sex offenders, including some pedophiles. The adults-only, nondescript, low-income trailer park near St. Petersburg, Florida has gained a reputation among sex offenders on probation as a good place to live and stay out of trouble. 

"Out there ... it's a jungle," said Michael, who did not want his last name used for this report. "In here, it's our own little piece of paradise. We're safe here." Michael was released from prison in June. He's been a familiar face to law enforcement in Florida and Mississippi for the past 20 years, serving prison time for grand theft, drug possession and sexual battery on a child.  "I pray a lot that my victim has been given the opportunity to grow beyond the horrendous problem that I caused for them," he said. In many ways, the Palace provides him a second chance at life.

New laws across the country have limited where sex offenders and predators can live, banning them from places where children might congregate.  This trailer park is far enough away from schools, churches, playgrounds and bus stops, allowing Michael to call it home without running afoul of the law. "As a sex offender -- when you come out, you're told you can't do this; you can't be around children; you can't go to parks; you can't go to the beach; you can't go to the library," he said.

Nearly 600 sex offenders have lived here in the past couple of years, according to manager Nancy Morais, who said she was sexually assaulted by a family member as a little girl.  Not only does she allow the sex offenders to live here, she also offers therapy to help them become part of society again. "Put him on the right track, and we have a better chance of seeing society be a little bit safer with this person," she said. "Can I guarantee they're all gonna be good? Of course not."

October 19, 2007 at 09:36 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The headline for this article is bizarro, exactly the type of thing that fuels hysteria, but the article for the most part is okay. Here's a couple of articles from Indiana about sex offender residency restrictions & how it can effectively make people in smaller towns homeless:

http://www.madisoncourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&subsectionID=253&articleID=39490

http://www.madisoncourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=253&ArticleID=39508

Posted by: | Oct 19, 2007 9:46:16 AM

I think this is good for dangerious offenders that can't control their impulses, and those that have spend long sentences in prison.

Posted by: EJ | Oct 19, 2007 10:30:57 AM

"I think this is good for dangerious offenders that can't control their impulses, and those that have spend long sentences in prison."

Which "this" is good for dangerous offenders?

Posted by: Ilah | Oct 19, 2007 11:02:53 AM

From the article it seems that they have gotten themselves under control and the police have an easier time dealing with them.

I don't like the idea of creating penal colonies, but since these people have agreed to do this, I think they should be supported.

But, we need to do more: We need to make sure these people can be gainfully employed.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 19, 2007 12:34:40 PM

I proposed a colony for sex offenders awhile back, and will be finished shortly. Review the earlier discussion.

NOTE: My email has changed to soretra@aim.com

Posted by: Peter Del Valle | Oct 19, 2007 2:50:20 PM

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