Here’s some basic stats: There are 5,280 feet in a mile. In many parts of Florida, it is illegal for a sex offender to live within 2,500 feet of a school. Any school. And in many cities which have such regulations, this effectively prohibits a former sex offender from living in the city.
Ok, so what now? A sex offender serves his sentence. Completes counseling. The sentence is over. The debt to society is paid in full–but there’s no place to live. No place to work. There has been such a witch hunt for sex offenders that it wouldn’t surprise me if some zoning board created an “urban plan” that would effectively keep sex offenders out of their city. By the time these witch hunts are complete, it may be that the only place left for sex offenders to live is in another state. I predict our legislatures will “zone out-of-state” anyone that offends them by the year 2023. I’m just saying….
And, these zoning laws are confusing. There’s local laws. State laws. There’s sex offender registration laws that constitute punishment in and of themselves. The State of Florida requires that offenders on probation not live within 1000 feet of a school. In the case of Calderon v. State, Calderon entered a plea to a sex offense and was instructed by the judge to not live within a 1000 feet of a school. C93 So.3d 439 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) Calderon agreed to follow the judge’s instructions, as he knew the home he and his wife share was beyond the 1000 feet mark. But, Miami-Dade County also has an ordinance which makes it a crime for him to live within 2500 feet of a school. So by following the advice of the judge’s order to live beyond 1000 feet–Calderon was still violating another law which required him to be 2500 feet away from a school. Yikes.
Should Calderon be forced to move away from his home and wife? Calderon went back to the judge, and requested permission to remain in his home with his wife. The court denied him permission, and demanded that he move, so as to comply with the 2500 feet ordinance. On appeal, he argued that there is a conflict between the 1000 feet law and the 2500 feet law, and that the conflict should be resolved in favor of the state law of 1000 feet. The appeals court disagreed, finding no conflict exists between the two laws. Chalk up another bad decision against freedom loving citizens everywhere. Sure, I can concede that the Calderon case was not the best vehicle to challenge a 2500 feet ordinance–but the madness needs to stop somewhere.
This is getting ridiculous. Really. How far are our elected officials–and judges–going to go to continue to punish sex offenders? Even my Christian brothers are supporting these crazy laws. Let me remind you Christians out there–sex offenders are the “least of our brothers.” Whatever you do to them, you do to Me (paraphrase from Jesus, don’t know the chapter and verse).
Lord, save me from the Good People….