Sen. Lauren Book Isn’t The Problem. Lobbying Is The Problem.

For the people on the sex offender registry living in the state of Florida must be a complete hell living experience. The random sex offense laws conjured up appears to be one of the most repressive compliance standards in the nation. However, there seems to be a focal point on assessing blame to Florida State Senator Lauren Book making a case for those oppressive bills to become law. But I would argue that Senator Book isn’t the problem with registry issues in the state of Florida. I would say that lobbying perhaps is the fourth branch of government for the Sunshine State that allowed such harsh conditions for Florida registrants.

First, all one has to do is follow the money trail. That begins with a simple search of the Florida Department of State Campaign Contributions website. A quick query instantaneously identified a plethora of lobbying donors in addition to real estate, educators, attorneys, and a trickle of a few large corporations. Rather than place direct blame at Senator Book for her legislative introduction, she was perhaps influenced by high profiled lobbying. Before anyone begins shooting fish in the barrel and tossing a lawn dart on Ron Book. I would suggest focal attention on the outside players. The Book family remains successful only if it has spending dollars filling its coffers. This implies that lobbying to introduce strick compliance laws for registrants are motioned by perhaps real estate, educational, and entertainment contributive dollars.

Let’s take an easy example of entertainment lobbying economics. Disney is perhaps the most identified source of revenue for Florida. The Disney corporation provides a political donation. Not because Senator Book has a pretty face. Instead, it is a political contribution to be heard later down the road once in office. So, if Disney wants to strengthen its “family atmosphere,” it would suggest a public policy that would eliminate possible harm or liability from happening on its property. Disney has said it utilizes facial recognition software to ban registered offenders from its property. But Disney doesn’t escort people off its property. That task has been outsourced to the local Sheriffs department. That indicates that Disney and the county have an exclusive agreement in place to trespass people from its properties. Disney has exclusively outsourced its problems to Florida presenting an illusion that it was deputies the entire time seeking offenders entering its properties. Naturally, this allows the Book family to become victims of circumstance. Sure, there is a plausible argument that there wouldn’t be such a case if Senator Book hadn’t introduced registrant bills that become law. However, it is safe to say that lobbying would have identified another member of the legislature to pass its restrictive measures sooner or later.

The money trail in sex offender legislation in Florida is pretty clear that the entertainment, real estate, and educators are the leading lobbying effort and establishment of maintaining a sex offender registry to rid of people from its state. Otherwise, why would a rising star democrat senator become the voice of the opposing party by introducing legislation typically found in republican policymaking? Deductive reasoning and logic points directly to lobbying and a need to sterilize the state entertainment sector from certain liabilities.

So, how does the sex offender registry advocacy tackle how to deal with lobbying? Simple. It begins a boycott campaign, not with Florida. But with the businesses that contribute to campaigns. An economic woe no matter how small, will eventually send a ripple effect to the business sector, even if you never step foot in the state of Florida. Rather than focus energy an attention on Senator Book. Focus and energy should be pressured upon the very contributory organizations that help finance and pressure public policy. To stop lobbying in its tracks, it is essential to slow their cash flow.

I’d bet if registry advocacy lobbying somehow became a contributing source of campaign influence during elections to render the registry obsolete, that opposition would be employing the same tactics.

Most of all, being visible to speak with legislatures is a crucially important role in our democracy. If people don’t listen, it’s okay. Eventually, if they see you in the hallways each week, they begin to pique an interest because they have no idea if you are making headway or not? Being visible in registry advocacy is vital not to tell your message but to describe how the registry has increased homelessness, higher unemployment rates, starvation, and other issues relevant to your particular state. Advocacy begins with being a lobbyist and sharing concerns for all constituents past, present, and future.

Lauren Book isn’t the problem. Lobbying is the problem.

Footnote: I would be willing to talk to Lauren Book about registry issues affecting her state in a professional diplomatic discussion if she would allow me the privilege?

A Silenced Minority

Educators usually say the most essential pillars of successful outcomes are a caring community of learners, enhancement of the learning objective, and reciprocal relationships and transparency to facilitate both sides of an issue. When it comes to an understanding, sexual offenses or those impacted by the registry, there is only one side because those that can contribute meaningful dialog are conveniently excluded or not allowed to voice objections or grievances.

I recently watched an interview with Derek Logue of the oncefallen.com website. During that CNN interview, the host interviewing Logue decided to become the loudest voice exclaiming unsubstantiated data and personal opinion rather than a dialog to understand opposing viewpoints. Logue posted on YouTube, “not my best interview,” but at least he presented a moment to introduce a differing opinion and voice. In another interview between Logue and Dr. Drew, Drew interjected his personal opinion rather than facts or supporting data that seemed more of a blindsided attempt to dissuade future opposing views. For starters, I have never met or spoken with Derek Logue, but I do congratulate him for at least standing up and advocating for a silenced minority.

But fast forward to those impacted by the registry. Why do we have tent cities, individuals living under bridges, homelessness, split families due to registry requirements, refusal for admission to disaster shelters during times of emergencies, closed internet access for offenders, and other issues? Perhaps it is due to the sensitivity of sex allegations/crimes. But those that do the reporting have no problem splattering a #metoo protest leaving no counterbalance. This discriminatory path allows sex offender advocacy a back seat on the bus endangering and hindering the lives of those attempting to go on about their business – or at least be heard? It is because sex offender advocacy can be a dangerous business.

 

An interesting observation about advocacy is that those affected by the registry don’t want to be further identified or already suffer from mental anguish from various reasons related to registry laws and restrictions. However, media sources have plenty of opportunities to investigate, educate and inform the public of consequences but introduce a one-sided opinion presenting no chance of culmination. A reason the voice is small is primarily that society claims to want a life of transparency and a return to productive lives – as long as it cannot be seen or heard from again.

That leads me to the question where opposition or advocacy is under attack from those that differ from a particular viewpoint? A disturbing indication of legislative and judicial censorship is a case where the OnceFallen.com website is under legal attack from those with opposing views. It brings to mind those accused of sexually based offenses but not criminally charged. Are they financially sequestered and squeezed to the point of collapse because of personal agendas? Will advocates endure the same fate? Is there that much of a threat in a democratic society where discourse is bullied or under legal threat by those with a personal agenda to silence viewpoints?  It is highly alarming and disturbing because isn’t that what the First Amendment is all about?

In 1992 the Innocence Project was created to help facilitate and reopen cases where those found guilty of specific crimes were tried based on bias, false evidence, or testimony. Many cases were identified as false convictions, and that number increases today. Of the cases undertaken by the Innocence Project more than 350 cases have led to those convicted of being overturned and freed. What if the Innocence Project or OnceFallen was much more extensive and had equity voice within mainstream media? Those 6000 or more cases could find irregularities and patterns of injustice. This is not to ever imply that all convicted offenders are innocent. Instead, the dialog is that justice is not a rash form of litigation. After all, homosexuals convicted of sodomy in California or other consensual acts were eventually overturned many decades later. Those affected still feel the sting and scars of injustice being labeled as sexual deviants without a simple apology to the LGBT community. What about those wrongfully accused or convicted at the convenience of prosecutorial plea bargains primarily aimed at the poor, helpless, and difficult to defend based on he said – she said testimony?

Perhaps prosecutorial immunity should be revisited, and qualified immunity should be reconsidered. There is an apparent abuse of power based upon personal prejudice that must be addressed. Afterall, the need for transparency, a caring community of learners, enhancement of the learning objective are the pillars of justice under the law of democracy. Exposing the truth instead of opinion should be the sole basis of law and advocacy.

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