ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County is home to almost 2,300 convicted sex offenders. The most of any county in the state.
A new report from the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability finds the number of convicted sex offenders and predators living in Florida grew by 53 percent from 2005, when 18,607 sex offenders lived in the state, to 2018, when there were 28,548.
Amid this growth, Orange County has emerged as the county with the most sex offenders, followed by Duval (2,108), Hillsborough (1,823), Miami-Dade (1,763), and Pinellas (1,697).
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“Orange County give(s) you the opportunity to rebuild your life,” said a convicted sex offender who asked WFTV News not use his real name. “Living in unincorporated Orange County, you have no problems, as long as you do as you are asked to do by the sheriff’s department.”
Orange, unlike large South Florida counties like Miami-Dade and Broward, does not have additional residency restrictions for sex offenders.
State law requires offenders to live at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks or playgrounds.
While many cities, including some in Orange County have extended this limit, Orange County, along with three other Central Florida counties -- Marion, Volusia and Osceola -- have not.
“While local residence restrictions have been widely implemented in Florida communities, federal research and Florida stakeholders reported that they may have unintended results,” cites the state report. “Residence restrictions do not decrease and are not a deterrent for sexual recidivism. In addition, some research has shown no significant decreases in sex crime rates following the implementation of residence restrictions. However, residence restrictions do affect offenders who have to move or have limited housing options, particularly in urban areas.”
Research by 9 Investigates shows only a small fraction of the growth in Florida’s sex offender population comes from offenders moving to the state. Instead, according to numbers complied by 9 Investigates, more than 90 percent of Florida offenders were sentenced in Florida.
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