Florida Gated Community Voting to Ban Sex Offenders

In a move that some have labeled "highly unusual," residents of a Keene's Point, a gated community in southwest Orange County, FL, will vote on whether to ban registered sex offenders from living in the development. The rule that the homeowner's association of Keene's Point is considering would forbid a registered sex offender to live within 2,500 feet of a playground or school bus stop within the community - thereby effectively preventing those convicted of sex crimes from living anywhere within the community. The rule would not bar a sex offender from purchasing property in the approximately 1,000 single-family home development, but if a sex offender owned property in the development he or she would not be able to live on it.

The association proposed the rule after some of the residents learned that a registered sex offender lived in Keene's Point. However, the rule up for vote would not be retroactive and would not affect anyone currently living in the development. Residents may vote on-line or via mail and the homeowner's association will announce the results soon.

Finding a Home Challenging for Sex Offenders

The Keene's Point homeowners' association's actions is further evidence of the challenges that sex offenders face in resuming life after they get out of prison. Many registered sex offenders have difficulty finding housing, as local ordinances often govern where they can and cannot live. For example, Florida state law prevents registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, park or playground. Florida courts have upheld local city ordinances that increase the distances within which sex offenders may not live near places children often are. Additionally, when a registered sex offender does find somewhere to live, he or she needs to report his or her address to local law enforcement.

Sex offenders also face social stigma which makes securing housing and employment within the narrowly circumscribed areas in which they can live difficult. These pressures decrease the chances that a registered sex offender will be successful after getting out of prison and increase the chances of recidivism.

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