More than a dozen people a day walk into the Orange County Sheriff's Office and register as sex offenders. The county is home to more than 2, of them.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office has a dozen people on staff — including four detectives — who do nothing but register and track sex offenders, who are required by law to register.
But Orange County is no outlier. A recent study by researchers at the Florida Legislature found that the number of registered sex offenders living in Florida communities has increased 44 percent over the past 10 years.
The statewide total is more than 26,, according to the researchers at the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. If you add in all the other sex offenders that the state is required to register — those who live out of state and those locked up in jail or prison — the number climbs to more than 66, Experts who treat sex offenders and researchers say people should not be alarmed by the increase in Florida's numbers.
One of the reasons: The number will continue to climb, she said, because it's like building a prison from which inmates are never released. What's important to remember, experts say, is that most registered sex offenders do not commit new sex crimes. Alan Grieco, a Winter Park psychologist at Psychological Affiliates who evaluates and treats sex offenders. The most common registered sex offender in Florida is a middle-aged white man who sexually abused a minor, according to a study by a team of researchers led by Levenson.
Which types of sex offenders are the most dangerous? High on the list, according to researchers, are those who rape adults. They are more likely to reoffend and to use weapons or force, according to the Florida Association for the Treatment of Sex Abusers, a group of professionals who treat sex abusers.
Sex offenders who molest underage boys are among the most likely to reoffend, according to the group. People who possess child pornography are among the least likely to molest children, the association reported.
Sheriffs keep tabs on offenders The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the agency that manages the sex registry, but its job is not to manage sex offenders. Its job is to oversee a system that relies on offenders to self-report. They must register at the local sheriff's office twice a year and fill out paperwork, saying where they live.
If they don't, they face possible arrest. In fiscal year , were arrested for failing to register, legislative researchers found.
Sexual predators, a classification for people who are believed to be a greater threat, must register four times a year. The total living in Florida communities has gone up percent in 10 years, legislative researchers found.
Except for 6, people who are on probation and, thus, are being supervised by the Florida Department of Corrections, no one manages the people on Florida's sex registry. Local sheriffs come closest. They are required to keep up-to-date addresses for them, even those who are homeless. According to the legislative study, more than 1, of Florida's registered sex offenders are transients.
About of them live in Orange County. The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida prohibits registered sex offenders from its property, said spokeswoman Muffet Robinson. Some communities have ordinances that expand those zones to 2, feet. Those communities have a higher proportion of homeless sex offenders, according to the treatment association, because offenders have fewer housing options and are blocked from more neighborhoods.
Homeless registered sex offenders are required to check in at the local sheriff's office every 30 days, and the overwhelming majority do, the study found.
The legislative study found that of Florida's registered sex offenders could not be accounted for. That's roughly half what the total was 10 years ago. Overall, Orange County typically ranks No.