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October 6, 2008

New local law tries to prevent sex offenders from "clustering"

This local story from Florida, headlined "New law prohibits sex offenders from clustering," reports on what appears to be another new type of regulation on where sex offenders may live.  Here are the details, along with an indication that some lawmakers are eager to create the equivalent of leper colonies for sex offender:

Hillsborough County leaders recently passed a new law that prohibits groups of sex offenders from clustering in one neighborhood.  County Commissioners passed a new law that prohibits sex offenders from living together or "clustering."  And offenders can occupy no more than 10 percent of units in a mobile home park. Landlords will also be punished if they allow it....

Community activist Michelle Williams pushed for changes so sex offenders aren't so closely concentrated, and county commissioners listened. "We needed to do whatever we had to do on the county level on the legislative side of it to keep our community and children safe," said Commissioner Kevin White....

White says he would like to have sexual offenders housed in a designated commune-like facility in Hillsborough County. The facility would be gated, well marked and a good distance from churches and schools. "Along the perimeter of that facility you could have the postings and the markings that this is a certified sex offender location -- please keep children so many feet away and children beware," White said.

October 6, 2008 at 02:49 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Let's see, so we're going to pass laws elinating lots of space due to children being within X feet, then once people figure out what slivers are not covered by the overlapping circles we are going to limit how many people can live in each sliver. This makes /so/ much sense.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 6, 2008 2:55:51 PM

There is nothing about anything in the way we deal with sex offenders that makes sense, so why is this surprising. It's just another knee-jerk reaction.

I have no earthy clue but I wonder if this violates sex offenders freedom to associate, or do felons automatically lose that right too?

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 6, 2008 3:23:51 PM

I wonder if anyone has a better suggestion.

It seems that there are dangers to dispersing sex offenders as well as "clustering" them. I don't know of any successful way to "rehabilitate" sex offenders, so I don't think that's the answer unless someone has more information than I do about this.

Posted by: | Oct 6, 2008 5:10:43 PM

"I don't know of any successful way to "rehabilitate" sex offenders,"

Whooah. I would certainly agree that some sex offenders are not able to be rehabilitated, but that is true for some robbers, some murders, some white collars crooks, etc. I know of no valid study that shows that sex offenders are more likely to reoffend than non-sex offenders.

"It seems that there are dangers to dispersing sex offenders as well as "clustering" them."

As for clustering, that's a bit of a joke. After all, the gentleman who so objects to clustering in mobile home parks wants to turn around and cluster them in an institution. The real issue isn't one of grouping, it's one of control. The community doesn't like sex offenders, so it wants to control them, even after they have done their time in prison. Controlling people a community don't like is an age old practice, so that's no surprise.

"I wonder if anyone has a better suggestion."

I do. How about we leave them alone and treat them just like we do with all other criminals. No registration requirements, just a hands off approach. Of course, politicians couldn't be able to beat their breasts, and vapid women wouldn't be able to roam the country side "protecting the children" so my suggestion isn't a "better suggestion" for them; they will be worse off. But I think the community, including the children, as a whole will be better off when the witch hunt ends.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 6, 2008 10:55:37 PM

"so I don't think that's the answer unless someone has more information than I do about this."

Many people have more information on the topic than you do. Law enforcement professionals, criminal justice experts, folks at the Center for Sex Offender Management, numerous victim advocacy groups...just to name a few.

Odd thing is, those same groups--the ones with more information--strongly oppose residency restrictions, anti-clustering laws, and so forth.

Odder still, those same groups--the ones with the information--are ignored by folks who instead say, "No one has any better suggestions."

Posted by: Arika | Oct 8, 2008 10:35:53 AM

I agree with the first statement- when you eliminate areas where people can live you only leave them areas where they - cluster - they cluster as a result of the current laws.

We also tend to scarlet letter these offenses. Is the offender a 20 yr old with a 17 yr old GF, or was the offense a pat on the ass at a Hooters? We need only restrict "Violent Child Predators". There's no reason to put these restraints on people who more than likely never repeat the crime. We give theives, and con-men second chances, well these people need a second chance also.

Posted by: Dave | Oct 17, 2008 11:46:03 AM

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