Florida readers of this blog are likely aware of the sex offender registration requirements imposed upon individuals convicted of many types of sex crimes. However, at least one Florida county sheriff’s department has taken additional measures, ostensibly to safeguard against recidivism and promote public safety.
The locale is Bradford County, and the so-called safety precaution involves the local sheriff placing large red signs in the yards of registered sexual offenders. The local official believes that neighborhood children will learn to recognize the signs and steer clear of playing in the vicinity of yards marked with the signs.
The sheriff explains that not all individuals on the registry are being targeted by the prevention effort. Rather, only those individuals that the sheriff characterizes as sexual predators — repeat offenders, or individuals who were convicted of child abuse or of having sex with a minor — have been identified.
The sheriff believes his action is justified under Florida state law, which affords the local sheriff or chief of police the discretion to notify residents under their jurisdiction of the presence of sexual predators in a manner they deem appropriate. However, some civil rights advocates might question whether the local enforcement agency has gone too far.
For example, it is unclear whether the offenders identified by the large red signs will be exposed to potential harassment or harm from their communities. In addition, there is no allegation that the offenders’ residences were located in the vicinity of public parks or other areas where children play.
Public safety is a compelling issue for many Florida readers. However, the instant measure may be excessive, especially considering that, with the exception of a small portion of repeat offenders, sex crimes have a recidivism rate that is much lower than those convicted of violent crimes or other general offenses.
Source: inquisitr.com, “Sexual Predators In Florida Identified With Large Yard Signs,” Jennifer Deutschmann, April 18, 2013