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Florida sheriff's office institutes homeless offender check-in

Florida readers of this blog likely have heard about the registration requirement to which many convicted sex offenders are subject. That requirement imposes a substantial check on individual privacy: the database is publicly searchable and produces an instant geographic listing of each offender’s residential address.

Proponents of the database assert that such listings serve the public safety, and in particular, parents concerned about neighborhoods where their children might play. Of course, the database is only effective for those offenders with an address. Homeless offenders, although they may have to check in with local officials, may not be as instantly searchable.

However, a Florida court recently imposed a check-in requirement for homeless offenders that solves the registry database issue, at the possible infringement of additional personal rights. A sex crimes lawyer, in particular, might note that the policy is not expressly authorized by local or state law. Whether this additional meausre actually helps offenders rebuild their lives remains to be seen.

Specifically, the court upheld a local sheriff’s policy of requiring homeless registered offenders to a weekly Monday morning check-in, where an officer records their anticipated nightly sleep location for the upcoming week in an official log. Yet the sheriff’s policy is stricter than it might first appear. According to its written policy, a homeless offender must be locatable at any of the transient locations recorded in the log. If, on any given night, an offender wanders to a different transient location, he or she is expected to call the local authorities and update the log before his or her move.

Source: flagerlive.com, “Weekly Check-In for Homeless Sex Offenders Approved by Florida Appeals Court,” June 10, 2013

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