STARKE, FL – Convicted sexual predators living in Bradford County are finding new yard decorations provided to them at no charge, courtesy of the Bradford County Sheriff’s Department.
Convicted sexual predators in the county will soon be outed to their neighbors by a big, red sign posted outside their homes warning others that a convicted sexual predator lives inside the residence.
According to Brad Smith, the department’s Chief of Operations, a sexual predator is defined as someone who’s been convicted of a first-degree felony that’s sexual in nature or multiple second-degree felonies that are sexual in nature.
In an interview with Vice magazine, Brad explained that a Florida statute dictates they make the public aware of these sexual predators, which they already do via Facebook and by going door-to-door whenever a sexual predator is moving into a neighborhood.
Placing the signs helps notify people who move into the neighborhood after the sexual predator has already located there, and keeps children away from the residence. When asked if he thought this may lead to the people living at these addresses being harassed, Brad answered, “We don’t expect that to happen, and if it does, we will do everything in our power to protect the person’s rights.”
Sheriff Smith said his main focus is is to protect the community, not worrying about how a sexual predator feels about a sign in their front yard.
“I have no sympathy for predators, my main goal is to protect children and senior adults,” said Sheriff Gordon Smith. “If it prevents one more victim in my community, I’ve done my job as sheriff.”
Currently, 18 signs have been made at a cost of $10. To save on the labor costs, they will be cemented on public property by inmates at the local jail.
So what do you think? Personally, I have no issues with it, but fear it may create potential legal problems for police, even though there is a Florida statute that states: “The sheriff of the county or the police chief of the municipality where the sexual predator resides shall notify the community and the public of the presence of the sexual predator in a manner that is deemed appropriate by the sheriff or the chief of police.”
Obviously, the Bradford County Sheriff’s Department deems these signs appropriate. But playing Devil’s Advocate, where does this stop? Should any crime someone is convicted of be displayed in this fashion, and if so, which ones? Murder, assault, DUI? Anyone convicted of these charges can be interpreted as a threat to public safety.
More importantly, when you are convicted of a crime in the United States you are given a punishment (hopefully) proportional to the crime you committed. Once you have completed that punishment, you have repaid your debt to society. Do these signs negate that very important part of our legal process by going beyond public safety and into harassment? /Devil’s Advocate
Personally, I could care less about the distress of a sexual predator. If I were in charge of this place, the only thing a sexual predator would have to worry about is how long they can hold their breath underneath another shovel load of dirt. But still, I like to remain wary regarding the direction law enforcement is headed, regardless of initial intentions, and where that direction could possibly lead to.
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