In August 2011, there were 2,129 sex offenders who were either dead or had been deported still listed in the statewide database as living in Florida communities, according to a new study led by the University of Washington Tacoma. Of the nearly 58,000 total people in the registry, only 22,877 were actually living in Florida
Study author Alissa Ackerman tells the Pulp that 16,081 sex offenders listed as living in neighborhoods were in fact in jail or "civilly committed." An additional 15,000 people on the registry have moved elsewhere.
"My concern is when people in the public look at this registry, they're not able to discern risk because there are so many people listed," she says. "The nature of sex offenses runs the gamut from very heinous to very minor, and I think that's one of the issues we have with ways information is placed on the registry."
The study, slated for publication in the Journal of Crime and Justice, shows that Florida has the highest rate of discrepancies in its registry of the five states examined, which include Illinois, Georgia, and New York.
Ackerman says she's unclear on what the policies are for removing a name. The registry is run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A spokesman for the agency did not have an immediate answer.
Florida has a legacy of making life after prison extremely difficult for sex offenders who have served their time. For a while, as documented by our sister paper the Miami New Times
, Miami was cramming them under
the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
Ackerman points out that Florida opted to follow the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which stipulates that all sex offenders be listed in a registry without consideration to whether they pose an actual risk to the community.
Following the act secures a bit of federal law enforcement funding, while states that don't follow it are at risk of losing about 10 percent of their federal law enforcement dollars, Ackerman says.
You can search for offenders here
; just keep in mind that, based on this new study, there's a good chance they're not actually there anymore. We'll let you know what the FDLE says when we hear back.