Local group wants to make changes to sex offender registry
There are more than 65,000 sex offenders registered in Florida.
There is a movement in the state and across the nation to change the reporting requirement. If the changes go through, you wouldn't know if a sex offender was living next door.
It would be a radical change, but a change some surprising people are asking legislators to consider with an open-mind. They want the system to be adjusted, so they are judged not by the crime they committed – but, by their risk of repeating it.
Retired Navy Captain Charles Robert Munsey is one of those people. He wears an ankle bracelet at all times while on probation.
In 2000, Munsey spent three years behind bars after being convicted of 'indecent liberties with a child by a custodian', in other words, sexual contact with a child in his care.
Munsey described his crimes as “moments of weakness” after his wife died of cancer. He said he has asked for and received his victim’s forgiveness and god's.
"I believe what the bible tells us. Satan will use our past to destroy our future. And I came to the conclusion, I am not going to let that happen," Munsey said.
In 2008, Munsey violated his probation by having contact with a minor.
Munsey makes it seem innocent enough, he said he talked to a neighborhood boy while taking a walk.
"And I thought it was the only decent thing to do, was to respond to him and not ignore him. And I would do it again because it was the right thing to do,” Munsey said.
Munsey’s sentence was extended 20 years.
"I am not a threat to anyone. If I was a threat to anyone, I should still be in jail." Munsey said.
According to the Department of Justice, the recidivism rate for sexual offenders committing a crime within three years of getting out of jail is 5.3 percent. Sex offenders committing another crime overall is 43 percent.
It is that possibility, the possibility of re-offending, that so many people worry about. It is a big reason behind two distinctions in Florida's system - offenders and predators.
People classified as offenders typically have a single victim.
Predators typically have multiple victims, multiple offenses, and/or use force.
Munsey is classified as a predator. He said those categories are born from fear, not fact. He would like the system changed.
"Call them level one, level two, or level three and in some states, level ones are not even on the registry," Munsey said.
Implementing three separate categories is one of the changes Gail Colletta would like to see happen in Florida.
"The registry in its current state does not serve its current purpose,” Colletta said. “How do we know who's really risky?"
Colletta lobbies to overhaul the system as a member of The Florida Action Committee. She said the public is in the dark about who the people labeled offenders and predators are.
"If you to say to somebody 'sexual exploitation, victim under 16', I ask people 'what do you think that means?’ Rape, human trafficking, prostitution. It means you looked at pictures."
Proponents for changing the system point out sex offenders are the only criminals on a registry. Not even murderers need to register.
Whether you are for or against changing the sex offender registry, you can let your state legislator know.
To find your state House of Representative, click here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx
To find your state Senator, click here: https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find