We noted a few months ago that some Florida lawmakers have vocalized that reforming the state’s sex offender laws is going to be a priority for them during the 2014 legislative session. It seems that many more have jumped on this legislative bandwagon. Specifically, many Florida lawmakers are concerned that too many individuals convicted of sex crimes are reoffending once they have been released from custody.
Preventing convicted felons from reoffending is certainly an understandable public safety priority. However, it is important that lawmakers keep in mind that the majority of sex offenders do not reoffend once released. As a result, it is important that any legal reforms that elected officials seek to make do not unduly punish or affect the lives of sex offenders at low-risk of reoffending once they are released.
Various Florida House and Senate panels have already passed various bills related to sex offenders, even though the legislative session does not technically begin until March fourth. Among those bills passed by various panels are ones that would require sex offenders to provide law enforcement with more personal information once they are no longer in custody, bills that would require all sex offenders to undergo community supervision after leaving prison and ones that would keep offenders imprisoned for longer.
None of these bills seems to take into account that low-level offenders characterized as unlikely to reoffend after release should be left in peace to pick up the pieces of their lives as best they can. Hopefully final versions of these bills will better reflect this reality.
Source: WTSP, “Florida lawmakes hope to tighten loopholes in sex offender laws,” Feb. 18, 2014