South Florida cities have pushed hundreds of sex offenders underground with strict housing laws in recent years, critics say, but a new Palm Beach County task force is taking steps to reverse that trend.
Photographer: AP GraphicsBank
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Changes may be on the way concerning where registered sex offenders are allowed to live in Palm Beach County. How would the rules change impact your community? Some say it actually could make people safer.
Shawana Habersham wants to protect her six kids from predators who live near her Riviera Beach home. Soon though, registered sex offenders could be allowed to move in even closer.
"We have to do what we need to do to protect the kids and putting them closer," said Habersham. 'That's just not a good idea."
"There are very few places in Palm Beach County where these people can live," said Michael Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Commission.
Rodriguez says the county is looking into relaxing restrictions concerning where sex offenders live from the current 2,500 feet from schools, playgrounds and bus stops to just 1,000 feet. Even with a change at the county level, individual cities and towns would be able to set their own rules.
Rodriguez says easing the rules may prompt the hundreds of sex offenders who currently register as 'transient', to instead register with their exact and permanent Palm Beach County address.
"It might put them a little bit closer to your home than the 2,500 feet now, but at least we would know where they are," said Rodriguez.
The Criminal Justice Commission is soliciting feedback from local police chiefs and individual municipalities before bringing this before the Palm Beach County Commission for consideration.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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