A new Florida policy bans sex offenders who are not allowed contact with children from public hurricane shelters. Instead, they will be shuttled to their own shelters-prisons across Florida.
The rule applies to offenders not allowed contact with children as a condition of their probation. This regulation and a flurry of laws have been approved since 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was discovered murdered in March, 2005 in Citrus County.
When placed on probation, sex offenders are asked to provide a home address for the state's registry of sex offenders, along with an alternate location they can go to in case of emergencies such as hurricanes. If they do not have an alternative, or if their back-up plan goes awry, sex offenders can talk to their probation officers about going to a local jail or prison, where there is less chance of them being with or harming a child.
State officials say that offenders seeking shelter in a prison or jail won't be placed with other prisoners since they are not being arrested. At the jail or prison, sex offenders will wear an ID badge and can use the telephone. 7,458 sex offenders are currently on probation in Florida.
Critics say children are under better supervision in shelters than their own neighborhood. Kids don't show up in hurricane shelters alone. They show up under parental supervision," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU in Florida. He said the new laws were created to convince the public that they are now protecting children more than they have in the past. A lot of this is smoke and mirrors. It's good politics, but it's not providing a lot of protection for children."
Source: Miami Herald.
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