MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County commissioners Tuesday will consider expanding the distance registered sex offenders in the county have to live from playgrounds, schools and day care centers.
Current registered sex offenders living in the county would be grandfathered into the new rule, if it is approved.
Sheriff William Snyder is asking the county to change the requirement from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet away.
It's an idea that resonates well with many parents, but there are others who feel the expanded living restrictions could do some harm.
The state sets the minimum distance requirements all counties must follow at 1,000 feet, but state law allows counties and municipalities to set their own, more strict distance requirements to no more than 2,500 feet.
Indian River County and St. Lucie County already require registered sex offenders to live 2,500 feet away.
"The reason we're doing that is because we've interviewed predators and offenders coming in to register, which they're required to by law, and they've told us unequivocally they're here in Martin County because it's easier to find a place to live," Snyder said.
He feels it is one way to keep children safe in Martin County.
However, advocates for homeless populations claim it is already hard enough finding housing for registered sex offenders and that they do need homes.
If they can't find homes, Yvette Gregory, client services director for Love and Hope In Action, said it will push more registered sex offenders into homelessness where their whereabouts could become harder to keep up with.
Gregory also said there is not strong data showing that registered sex offenders living within 2,500 feet of a school or park in Martin County have been a danger to children.
"If I had heard recently there were sex offenders crossing the line and laying their hands on children, then I would probably say yes, but I haven't heard or seen that," Gregory said. "I hope there will be something the county comes out with as to why they're initiating this, so it just seems like punishment for people who have already gone through so much."