Fla. Officials Post Sex-Offender Signs Near Homes

May 9, 2013

Officials in Bradford County, Fla., are posting permanent signs in red outside of homes of convicted sexual predators in local communities. The “public notice” signs include the name of the convicted sex offender and the words “...is a convicted sexual predator and lives at this location.” 

So far, the county has posted 18 of the signs since last month. Nearby Baker County began a similar program a year ago. 

Bradford officials say this is how they’ve chosen to follow a mandate by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which says officials must notify the community about a sexual predator’s presence. The law does not say how that notification must occur, however. Other places often use fliers or Web sites to notify community residents. 

The signs have had mixed success in other cities. For example, a Kansas appeals court in 2009 overturned a judge’s decision, with the appeals court ruling that notification signs posted on the home and car of a past sex offender are not permitted. 

Some Bradford County residents have praised the city’s move to add the signs to residences, while others say it goes too far by harassing people who already served jail terms and submitted to the public registry. 

"I think it's a lot of bull," Brian Speer, who was convicted on charges of molestation in 2004, told the Associated Press. “I believe that anybody that has any criminal background should have a sign in front of their house if we have one in front of ours.” 

The signs are only posted for those who have been convicted of first- or second-degree sex crimes, such as molestation or sexual battery. Not all sex offenders are sexual predators. 

"I know the predators are not real fond of it,"Joey Dobson, Baker County sheriff, told the Associated Press. "I understand, but I think it's important for the community to know where these people live."

Source: “In Fla., Home Signs Warn of Presence of Predators,” Associated Press (May 7, 2013)

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