Sex Offenders Chased by Day Care Center

Sex Offenders Bus StopIt seems that some Orlando area sex offenders, unable to find housing elsewhere after being released from prison, wound up living at a trailer park. Said trailer park was near a school bus stop. Local parents, quite reasonably concerned, tried but failed to have the bus stop moved. Apparently, “According to the release conditions placed on sex offenders, they are prohibited from living near schools, churches and day cares, but there is nothing that says can’t live by the bus stop.”

So, said concerned parents hatched a new plan: build a day care center nearby and force them to move. Once their license is approved, the men will have 24 hours to leave.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that I’m anti-sex offender.  Indeed, as the parent of a nine-month-old girl, this is one area where I’m likely to become less, rather than more, tolerant as time goes by.

Still, this strikes me as abusive.  To prohibit these men from moving to a place next door to a school or day care center is prudent and hardly too much to bear; I’m a little more dubious about churches but whatever.  But, surely, even convicted felons shouldn’t be forced from their homes at the whim of builders or vengeful parents?  What if they actually owned a house?

Indeed, it seems this move will preclude the men from living anywhere in the county.   That makes it rather inconvenient to hold down a job — already a difficult thing for a man with this sort of crime on his record.  For that matter, what if the terms of their release require them to remain within the county?

via Radley Balko

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. To prohibit these men from moving to a place next door to a school or day care center is prudent and hardly too much to bear; I’m a little more dubious about churches but whatever. But, surely, even convicted felons shouldn’t be forced from their homes at the whim of builders or vengeful parents? What if they actually owned a house?

    Not just that, but has anyone considered the fact that the more we ostracize people who, depending on their record, may have committed one offense that labeled them a “sex offender”, the more likely we make it that they won’t be rehabilitated ?

    I know there’s this idea out there that goes “once a pedophile, always a pedophile.” And, maybe for some offenders it’s true, but given how broad the law now defines the term “sex offender” for purposes of Megan’s Law registration, it seems to me that we’re creating a huge injustice here.

    If an 18 year old guy has sex with his 16 year old girlfriend, he has, in many states, committed statutory rape and will forever be branded as a “sex offender.”

    Does that really make sense ?

  2. Steve Verdon says:

    Why not just kill them. We can dig a bunch of graves and have each offender kneel in front of his grave, then the executioner comes along and shoots him in the back of the head. He falls in the grave and then he is buried. Quick, easy, cost effective. Maybe Barbara Ferris would like to be the trigger person.

    Here are some of the potential problems with dingbats like Ferris.

    1. By ostracizing these people to such a tremendous degree it incentivizes them to not comply with the registration laws. Just disappear and take on a new identity. This of course makes everyone, including the children less safe. I’ve seen some numbers to indicate that this is indeed already happening.

    2. Ferris’ children are probably more at risk of someone she knows than they are with the offenders living in the park. The most likely people to abuse her children are her, her husband, another relative, a friend of the family or a care giver.

    And this doesn’t get into things like the guy in Virginia who was in his own kitchen naked and is now looking at being placed on a sex offender registry because a woman and her child were trespassing on his property and could see him….at 5:30 AM. Of course, if it was a man at 5:30 AM and the person in the kitchen was a woman, we know that the man would once again be arrested. Take a leak in public cause you just can’t find a bathroom and some child sees you…whooops you could find yourself on the registry. Go to a prostitute? Yep, you could be put on the registry (can we get Larry “Wide Stance” Craig on there for his bathroom activities, or how about Eliot Spitzer). Or you get caught having sex with your girlfriend, you just turned 16 and she’ll turn 15 next week, but for that 7 to 10 day period you are now a child rapist!

    ——> On to the Registry!

    Now, if Barbara Ferris’ children grow into teenager hood and get busted for sexting and wind up on the list…oh I will laugh.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Indeed, it seems this move will preclude the men from living anywhere in the county.

    I believe courts have ruled that a community must provide strip clubs with some reasonable place to operate their business, even if it can prevent them from operating within certain distances of schools and churches. I wonder if similar arguments would apply here.

    The retroactivity of the whole thing smell enough on it’s own though. I hope the guy gets a lawyer and shuts down the daycare for intentionally locating in a dangerous area.

  4. sam says:

    I believe courts have ruled that a community must provide strip clubs with some reasonable place to operate their business, even if it can prevent them from operating within certain distances of schools and churches. I wonder if similar arguments would apply here.

    They might, but wouldn’t such living zones strike you as a bit like the pre-war ghettos of Eastern Europe?

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Everyone’s missing the point. They first tried to move the bus stop but some bureaucrat couldn’t allow it so their options came down to this. Who’s the villain? I say it’s the idiot who wouldn’t let the stop be moved.

    The tangled web of bureaucratic rules will be the ruin of us all. Rather than approach problems in a reasonable, rational manner we must now use tricks to accomplish the right thing.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    They might, but wouldn’t such living zones strike you as a bit like the pre-war ghettos of Eastern Europe?

    No, those on the sex registry get to live next to the strip clubs. It’s win-win!

  7. PD Shaw says:

    It seems to me Steve Plunk that instead of complaining about the schools not doing enough to protect kids from sex offenders in the neighborhood, the parents could just take turns watching the kids til the bus comes. That way, their children would be safe not only from the sex offender down the road, but one’s with cars.

  8. Alex Knapp says:

    Everyone’s missing the point. They first tried to move the bus stop but some bureaucrat couldn’t allow it so their options came down to this. Who’s the villain? I say it’s the idiot who wouldn’t let the stop be moved.

    How do you know there wasn’t a good reason for the stop not to be moved?

  9. gustopher says:

    I would assume that the point of all these laws is to ensure that the sex offenders violate one of those laws and get put back in jail, before they get a chance to offend again.

    But, if we are effectively sentencing these people to life in prison, we should just do that.

  10. That assumes that life in prison is either an appropriate or just sentence for everyone deemed a “sex offender” under currently applicable laws.

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, you mean a reason more important than keeping them away from convicted sex offenders? I haven’t the foggiest what the reason might be for not moving the stop since the story failed to mention any reason. I would have expected the story to mention if there was a good reason. I’m working with what’s out there as far as info. But, my experiences with school boards and other bureaucratic beasts lead to my conclusion that somebody has blinders on and is so narrowly focused they don’t see the big picture.

    PD, I would do exactly as you say but these people are working within the system so who’s to fault them? They didn’t create the bureaucratic mess of rules and regulations that allows this. That pesky rule of unintended consequences always rears it’s head when you least expect it. The simple solution seems to be move the stop.

  12. Alex Knapp says:

    Alex, you mean a reason more important than keeping them away from convicted sex offenders? I haven’t the foggiest what the reason might be for not moving the stop since the story failed to mention any reason.

    Exactly my point. Why are you passing judgment without evidence?

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Alex, you mean a reason more important than keeping them away from convicted sex offenders? I

    They aren’t all child rapists. Stranger danger is vastly over stated. A child is in more danger from parents or other family members.

    Now moving the bus stop might put the children in greater danger. For example, how many children are hit by cars on their way to school vs. being attacked by a stranger who is on a sex offender registry?

    …the parents could just take turns watching the kids til the bus comes. That way, their children would be safe not only from the sex offender down the road, but one’s with cars.

    That is illegal in Michigan, not sure about other places. You’d be considered as running a type of day care and you’d be told not to do it anymore by the State or face the legal repercussions.

  14. Franklin says:

    If we as a society feel that these sex offenders are still dangerous, why are they not in prison?

    (And no, I’m not talking about the 18-year-olds who got caught getting BJs from their 16-year-old girlfriend.)

  15. Grewgills says:

    That is illegal in Michigan, not sure about other places. You’d be considered as running a type of day care and you’d be told not to do it anymore by the State or face the legal repercussions.

    How does that work?
    Can you not take your children and their friends to the park, or beach, or wherever without breaking the law either?

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Steve, that Michigan thing is just strange. In Illinois, I would say that the state doesn’t even appear to enforce the normal daycare regulations. They have all these rules on adult/child ratios, required nap times, documentation, etc. which the institutional day cares get audited for. People operating out of their house, not so much.

  17. RWVNRAL says:

    The appropriate tool for punishing sex offenders is prison. Once an offender has done his/her time, then he is no longer subject to punishment. Exiling people is a punishment as old as time itself. To call it either “public policy” or “rationally related to the public’s interest in protecting children” are merely euphemisms for PUNISHMENT. We have gone way beyond reasonable in our hysterical response to sex offenders (many of whom simply pulled out their “peters” in public). We need to retreat from this wild, frenetic approach before a whole new host of registries and restrictions pop-up (as several state legislatures are already considering). We may wake up one day with a registry of miscreants in the millions!

  18. Steve Verdon says:

    If we as a society feel that these sex offenders are still dangerous, why are they not in prison?

    Well because that would be the smart thing to do?

    I tell ya, there is still a pony there in the government somewhere. Keep looking.

    (And no, I’m not talking about the 18-year-olds who got caught getting BJs from their 16-year-old girlfriend.)

    Hate to break it to you, but the law makes no distinction. That 18 year old would be listed on the internet with something like: lewd and lacivious conduct with a minor under the age of 16 or some such. He’d have to stay away from schools, churches, day cares, and in some states parks, playgrounds, and yes even bus stops.

    Think back Franklin…were you ever guilty of child rape? If you were 18 and had a girlfriend who was 16 or 17…you probably were. Neat, huh?

    PD,

    Steve, that Michigan thing is just strange.

    Yes I know, but that is almost precisely what happened. A woman who lived near the bus stop told parents she’d keep an eye on the children while they waited. She was ratted out by a sleazebag neighbor and the CPS (or whatever) told the woman to stop of face the legal consequences.

    Grewgills,

    Can you not take your children and their friends to the park, or beach, or wherever without breaking the law either?

    It probably depends. If you are watching them regularly, say at your home for more than 4 weeks a year, then no. You can’t watch them at your home, you cant take them to the park, you can’t take them to the beach. If you did, you would indeed be breaking the law in Michigan.