In response to the FAC Call to Action, here's my letter I'm sending in the mail to the FL legislators (Except Lauren Book, because what's the point?):
From: Derek W. Logue
Registered Citizen Advocate
Founder of OnceFallen.com
To: Members of the Florida Legislature
RE: SB 1226 & HB 1301
Dear Florida State Legislators,
I am writing you today to oppose both SB 1226 and HB 1301, similar bills which will have a detrimental impact on the lives of thousands of individuals.
These bills will impact both the ability of free humans to travel as well as shackle individuals with costly and ineffective electronic devices that will cost the state tens of millions of dollars. I will address each of these parts individually.
REDUCING TRAVEL REGISTRATION
I am an advocate for the restoration of individuals forced to register for life as “sex offenders.” I live in Cincinnati, Ohio but I have taken numerous trips to your state in order to assist those on the registry improve the quality of their lives. I have engaged in a peaceful protest right outside the State House while Lauren Book completed her march across the state in 2015. I have visited (and stayed at) the homeless registrant camp on multiple occasions in order to report on conditions at the camp as well as provide much-needed supplies to the camp.
I know for a fact that “Senator” Lauren Book came up with this idea of lowering the time I can visit before registering specifically to try to deter me from visiting Florida to help the homeless registrants of Hialeah, the camp a law named after her was responsible for creating. Unfortunately, Senator Book has become a master of using the law as a weapon of vengeance against those who are forced to register. It is important to keep this in mind since I am currently engaged in a legal battle with Lauren Book. She is filing vexacious litigation against me trying to prevent me from exercising my 1st Amendment right to protest and speaking out against her reprehensible actions. This bill is just another attempt to bend the law to her will. Justice isn’t supposed to be about vengeance!
Of course, even if this bill passes, I will continue to engage in protests against the Book family, as I already live in a state that requires me to notify my travel plans, so forcing registration when I . Quite frankly, I would not want to visit your state much less live there, but many registered humans have ties to Florida and this would impact them as well. I am well aware of the fact that only 45% of those listed on your registry actually live in Florida communities. However, you force individuals to register for life even if they haven’t lived in Florida for years. You are also one of the only states that allow registry info to pop up on a Google search. This encourages vigilante violence against registered citizens. I have endured vigilante violence, including harassment by associates of Senator Book.
It also raises concerns that individuals not publicly registered in one state will have their registry information plastered all over the Internet. For example, Washington and Massachusetts are among the states that do not post registry info online. If one were to visit from those states, then they would be forced to register for life and be placed on the internet even though their conviction state does not do either.
Finally, it should be worth noting that there is already a lawsuit in the works over keeping out-of-state registrants on the Florida registry, so passing this bill will add the number of people eligible for this costly class-action suit.
When I had visited the homeless registrant camp (Lauren’s Kingdom) in Hialeah, I was shocked to see the number of homeless registrants wearing these bulky, uncomfortable, radioactive devices. Imagine the time it takes recharging your smartphones, only with that smartphone strapped to your body. I imagine it would be hard to do things like go job hunting or shop for groceries while recharging. Imagine trying to find a place to recharge at a homeless camp. Who is paying for this? Your constituents, that’s who!
I am concerned the GPS devices are costly and ineffective in reducing sex crimes, as well as constituting such a great burden to both law enforcement and to the former offenders who have served their time and are struggling to successfully reintegrate into society.
It was estimated back in 2007 that the cost of GPS is around $10 per day per device. (I imagine that number is higher now.) If the law was applied to 6,660 offenders currently on the list, the state will have to shell out $24.3Millions dollars per year just to maintain the devices by the $10 a day rate. The chances of passing the expenses onto former offenders is unlikely, as most former offenders struggle to find steady employment in a slumping economy and employers hostile to people with criminal records.
The use of GPS devices should be reconsidered, as the technology suffers from numerous limitations. Among the common technological problems: “Geometric Dilution Of Precision” (GDOP), meaning if the angle of the receiver to the satellite is too small, the satellite may give a false reading; satellite visibility- buildings, metal, and other terrain obscures the signal; speed limits- if it is going above a certain speed, it will not work; and temperature limits- will not work in extremes of temperature.
Washington state did a test run with “passive” devices (passive devices merely record where the person has been and must be uploaded to read, whereas active devices send out constant signals), and found 4000 “notices of violation,” the vast majority of which were false alarms due to technical difficulties [Jonathan Martin, “GPS tracking beset by problems of terrain, technology, and time.” Seattle Times, Sept. 28, 2005].
The batteries could fail to charge, be defective, or possibly leak or even explode. What about the health concerns? There is growing evidence that these radioactive devices can negatively impact your health. The overall health of those struggling with homelessness is already poor to begin with, so these devices can exacerbate an already existing problem.
GPS use also raises a number of ethical and constitutional issues. One senator who voted against the Wisconsin bill stated it would create a “big brother bureaucracy” and was unnecessary [Steven Waleters et al. “GPS tracking for sex offenders OK’d.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 25, 2006]. Most states are imposing the devices on all offenders, even low-risk offenders. It raises questions on the limits states can invade in the private lives of freed citizens. There is also a question of whether the devices violate the fourth amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
With all the concerns and limitations regarding GPS, it makes little sense to pass such sweeping legislation. Both the state and the offender will be burdened with the number of false alarms, as noted in the Washington study. Furthermore, GPS does not monitor the offender’s actions, just location, and can easily be removed by an offender who is determined to re-offend. In other words, GPS will not prevent crimes, but places an undue burden on the registrants who cannot afford to pay and state taxpayers/ constituents who will end up footing the bill. . Former offenders are concerned of being “branded for life,” a mark of infamy which lowers his chances at successful rehabilitation and reintegration. Such expenses would be better spent on prevention, treatment, and reintegration programs that are proven effective in reducing sex crimes in general and reducing recidivism rates for registrants.
THEREFORE, I strongly urge you to not advance this terrible piece of legislation. Both of these bills will end up costing constituents millions of dollars without offering any benefits. For those who are religious, remember, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:20. This is not about preventing sexual abuse but about vengeance and harming an unpopular group of people. That was why we created a Constitution in the first place. No victim advocate turned State Senator should advance laws based upon hatred and revenge, lest we return to the days of inquisitions, trials by ordeals, and witch hunting.
Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
Registered Citizen Advocate