Who's Your Neighbor?
"Who's your neighbor?" It's a question we thought most people could answer-so we did some checking.
We started with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website, searching their sex offender database...
Demetric Young's house in NE Gainesville, is surrounded by offenders-all within a few blocks.
"No not at all... maybe a couple, but not five," he said.
Like Young, others were surprised to hear what we told them.
"No I didn't, I don't think my wife did either," said Patrick Rodel, who has four sex offenders living within a few blocks of his house off Northeast 11th Terrace.
Gainesville City Ordinance prohibits offenders and predators who have victimized a child under 16 from living within 2500 feet of a school, day care center, or park.
"It makes me feel terrified and I worry a lot about our daughter." Rodel has been living here since '98, and says he has no sympathy for sex offenders.
"Villainize them as much as necessary- just don't do the crime again," he said.
However, not everyone we spoke to had a problem with living near criminals.
Young says the guy who cuts his lawn is a registered sex offender.
"He can come over here at any given time," he said, "I don't think they should be treated any differently, I think they should all be given a second chance."
For her thesis, University of Florida doctoral student Jennifer Klein spent two years interviewing registered sex offenders and compiling research.
She says despite what many think, sex offenders have one of the lowest rates of committing the same crime a second time, compared to all other offenders.
"Once that label gets on you, even if you're not convicted, just having that association around you, it's very hard to shake off... so once you're known as a sex offender, you don't want to keep perpetrating this idea about yourself," she said.
Klein says parents have the right to protect their children, and the registry should exist, but believes there is room for reform.
"Somebody who is out committing a rape, should not be labeled the same as someone who is publicly urinating and gets caught doing it, it's not the same type of offense-it's not the same thing when we have an adult preying on a small child, or an 18-year-old who is engaging in sexual activities with their 16-year-old girlfriend," she said.
The "view flyer" tab next to the offenders picture on the FDLE website gives a summary of the crime, and if it was against a child.
Information that may give some neighbors peace of mind.
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