Florida Violates Sex Offenders for Possessing Common Men's Magazines
The State of Florida, in a crackdown on sex offenders, is sending probationers to jail for probation violations because they possessed racy magazines or sex manuals. The crackdown comes from increased surveillance of sexual offenders after the March murder of Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl allegedly killed by a convicted sex offender on probation.
Probation officers and a local police searched the homes of sex offenders to make sure they are following the terms of their release. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) contends it is enforcing existing court orders as part of its "zero tolerance" policy.
When Andrew Calderon's home was searched on May 18, 2005, officers found a sexy calendar, a racy poster, and a few copies of Maxim Magazine. Calderon, 23, was jailed for six days on a probation violation for possessing "sexually stimulating" material. Calderon's probation stems from the sexual battery of a mentally disabled relative. He awaits a hearing to determine if the materials warrant return to prison.
"Anything that is sexually stimulating, we are going to violate them on and the judges are going to make those decisions," said Debbie Buchanan, FDOC Spokeswoman. "If there's any question at all, we're going to violate them." Ironically, once in prison, sex offenders can order Maxim Magazine and sexy calendars, without fear of repercussions.
Florida sex offenders need also keep their eyes on the tropics. In June 2005, the FDOC announced that sex offenders will be banned from public shelters during hurricanes. Some Florida communities are attempting to segregate sex offenders by severely limiting where they can live.
Critics say that such restrictions, based on generalized fears, do not really make communities safer. "What is needed," says Denise HughesConlon, President of the Florida Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, "is information, readily unavailable to the public detailing just how much of a risk individual offenders may be."
Instead, the information available on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Internet registry lumps sex offenders and predators (the designation is supposed to be given to those who've committed the most serious or multiple sex crimes) together and doesn't take into account risk assessment.
Sources: Palm Beach Post, News-Journal Online
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