There are tight restrictions placed on sex offenders—where they can live, where they can work, and who they can communicate with are all governed by the rules of their release and their requirements to register. But one woman is hoping to make things easier for those offenders and reportedly the public who fears them, by giving them their own community.
Between Sorrento and Sanford Barbara Farris hopes to build a community of sex offenders. She plans to begin the community with a population of 288 and potentially expand it to 1,100.
The area is rural and Farris says she is doing this for the benefit of everyone involved. She says the community would offer counseling, transportation, and employment assistance, while reassuring the public that these offenders were no longer living in their neighborhoods and near their children.
Not everyone is convinced. Some who already live in this area in particular, are fighting Farris’ plans. One mother says, “There’s kids everywhere and they just don’t need to be around any sex offenders, much less a large quantity of them.”
But Farris maintains she is an “advocate for children” and that this sex offender “village” is a simple solution to the current situation, where parents often don’t know they have a sex offender living next door.
The problem with all of this is that recent research shows that requiring strict registration can actually increase someone’s chances of reoffending. This is largely due to the stigma of their offense and their inability to integrate back into society. By placing the offenders in one small community, it’s not likely that their feelings of normalcy will be any better.
Cities and states across the nation have been forced to deal with increasing numbers of registered offenders and tighter laws regarding their supervision. Things like residency requirements, even here in Florida, have led many offenders to live homeless in order to fulfill the requirements of staying far enough away from schools, daycares, and the like.
The public’s fear of these offenders is understandable in most instances. But there has to be a reality check at some point, where the real value of sex offender programming is evaluated in an honest manner and changed if necessary for the benefit of the public and everyone else involved as well.
If you are accused of a sex offense in Florida, you already know the stigma is real. The scorn you face, even before you go to court, is palpable. It’s now more than ever that you need an advocate on your side, fighting for positive results in your case.