By Sandy . . . I have written previously, and copiously, about the plight of those on the registry who are homeless and the ineffective residency restriction laws that are largely responsible. I have written recently about this situation as it has been playing out in parts of Florida.
Forced into homelessness by over-the-top residency restrictions, camps of people are now being forced from even the places where they have clawed out a place to live, a community.
I have followed closely the latest developments in regard to that. Many others are writing about it also. They are doing a good job of expressing the feelings that anyone with a shred of human decency feels: the frustration at laws that cause so much misery and add nothing to public safety; the disgust that people are forced to live in such conditions; the horror at the attitudes of those who feel this is justified; the disbelief at the hypocrisy of officials who have contributed to the situation and now pretend to be concerned.
Other writers are doing such a good job that I have been content to let them.
I am no longer content.
I have nothing new to add, but I feel I must join my voice with those who recognize what an atrocity is being forced upon fellow human beings. Many of these living in the camps and tents and sleeping on the ground have homes into which they would be welcomed, but cruel and pointless laws prevent their going there.
Many of these brothers and sister of ours have long, long ago paid their debts to society for the crimes that they committed.
The vast majority of them have not re-offended and will not re-offend no matter where they live, and for the few who will, being where they are will not stop them.
There is not a scrap of evidence that laws such as these contribute to anything positive. They do not lower the rate of sexual abuse. Well over 90% of new sexual crime, close to 100% with child victims, is committed by those not on a sex offender registry and not subject to residency restrictions.
No one could look at the pictures and read the stories of masses of people living in squalor and indignity beneath bridges and in fields and in railroad yards and believe that public safety is being enhanced.
There is no support for these laws in research, from academics, from social workers, nor from many in the media. Even media sources who tend toward sensationalism in writing about sexual offense issues are hard pressed to contain their disgust for what is causing such pointless human misery.
History show us that man has the capacity for goodness, for greatness, and for tremendous compassion and love toward one another.
It also shows us that we have the capacity for unfathomable cruelty.
This situation playing out in Florida, however it is resolved, if it is resolved, will surely stand as an example of man’s capacity for evil and vileness and of his total inability to comprehend the meaning of this phrase: There but for the grace of God go I.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.