Florida county’s “self-certified child safety zones” condemned by NARSOL and Horowitz

By Lenore Skenazy. . . In 2020, an ordinance in Brevard County, Florida, permitted a business to certify itself as a place where children congregate—the moral equivalent of a park—thereby making it a crime for anyone on the sex offense registry to venture inside, or loiter nearby. The idea, apparently, was to make kids even safer from danger.

But, “proximity” laws prohibiting sex offenders from public places like playgrounds have not been shown to make kids any safer, says Emily Horowitz, a sociologist who researches sex offense law and policy.

At the same time, under this law, people on the registry have no way of knowing which businesses have self-certified themselves as child-gathering places. That means registrants don’t know which establishments they are barred from entering, or even going near. But if they get too close, they are violating their registration requirements, which could land them in prison.

“Protecting children from harm is a goal shared by all, but this law does nothing to advance that goal,” says Sandy Rozek, communications director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws. “It is a ‘feel-good’ law, not a ‘do-good’ law.”

Even before the self-certification law, Brevard registrants were required to stay at least 1,000 feet away from parks, playgrounds, schools, and daycare centers. But since the self-certification provision took effect, registrants have felt compelled to bring the matter before county commissioners and explain how it hampers their ability to live in society.

Merely attending a meeting of the county commissioners is impossible, however, as Brevard’s Government Center is less than 1,000 feet from a high school, making it a crime for anyone on the registry to enter the building.

Two years ago, when the self-certifying ordinance was first proposed, friends and family members of registrants spoke on their behalf at a public meeting, asking the commission not to pass it.

Only Bryan Lober, the commission chair, voted against the law. As he noted at the time, “It’s a little troubling that we can’t have folks here who this is going to directly impact.”

Read the remainder of Lenore’s article here at Reason.

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9 Thoughts to “Florida county’s “self-certified child safety zones” condemned by NARSOL and Horowitz”

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  1. Arax

    Floriduh is just one hateful and revengeful state, isn’t it?
    I’m glad the men are fighting these laws. More power to them.

  2. Robert Curtis

    I have a vehicle by which to remove those that institute these kind of laws from office but I haven’t gotten much support, interest or feed back from organizations like WAR, ACSOL, FAC and NARSOL.

  3. Arne john hesson

    And so it keeps rolling on and on. New laws, new rules. Seems like it never ends. Now as offenders we have to deal with State, Federal, and county rules/laws. Now it is city ordinances. Pretty soon, even our air, will be limited.
    Been playing this B.S. game since 1996. For a crime that was done in 1982.
    Keep in mind America!! You kick a dog for so long. Don’t complain when it bites ya.

  4. Cherokee Jack

    Only Bryan Lober, the commission chair, voted against the law. As he noted at the time, “It’s a little troubling that we can’t have folks here who this is going to directly impact.”

    These are the types of people we need to surround ourselves with or partner with. Someone who can actually see the damage these rules are causing not just us, but our families. Whatever you do to me, you do to my loved ones as well. What do I tell my grandson when I am not allowed to watch him perform in a school play?

    1. TS

      Having people there who are impacted is one thing, actually doing something for them is another. So don’t think he was willing to do something about it. He could’ve just wanted to make sure any opposition was heard to avoid any argument about no one impacted was heard.

  5. Jim

    Everyone needs to stop being feeble. This is what they bank on. Us just backing down and being cowards. I have a vehicle by which to remove those who institute these kind of laws from office and the support is growing. Now there are 2.

  6. Jeremy from Indiana

    Can’t even be near the county commissioner’s office? That’s unconstitutional! The first amendment grants all citizens the right to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances… but I guess we aren’t really citizens are we? What if churches with Sunday school start doing this, doesn’t that violate religious freedom when a RSO can’t go to the religious institution of their choice?

    I didn’t even realize that states have “proximity” laws. There are so many things wrong with that. Can you get arrested just walking or driving past a place that’s “safe” within a 1000 feet? The obvious goal of laws like this is to drive RSOs out of the state or put them in prison forever. It’s not about “saving” children, it’s about lifetime punishment and banishment.

    The biggest problem with most of these laws is the process we need to do to fight it. Someone needs to jump on a grenade, so to speak, and get arrested to fight it in court. Then that person runs the risk of losing in court and having a registry violation on their record and more jail time. Not an easy thing to ask of anyone.

    1. Tim in WI

      Imagine a law describing how far ( a distance) felons must remain away from a firearms. You know so politicians can improve upon the laws restricting the being in possession of same. That is how much ” residential restrictions ” make sound reasoning.

  7. Jim

    Narsol, I am sorry for my angry outbursts. I have been victimized by the registry for more than 30 years since my offence. When I see things like this happen, I now want to form a group and attack the attacker. Being on this registry has turned me from a caring shy person. Into a very angry and cornered person who would like to get after the people who enjoy harming me for the rest of my life, for an offense that I committed as a youth. 1993 was the end of any chance for a fair life for me and I have been trying to survive since then. I do truly thank you for helping us all and will make it a mission to tame my tongue and angry thoughts. Thank You!