Various media reports have talked about the Tampa City Council’s discussion yesterday about sex offenders. The Council originally was debating a local ordinance to prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 (almost 1/2 a mile) feet of schools, parks, and day care centers. State law currently provides a 1,000 feet buffer.
However, when (interim) Councilman Chip Fletcher saw the map of areas that would be protected by the new ordiance, he suggested that a total ban. The map showed the limited areas where a sex offender could legally live under the new ordinance; virtually the entire city would be subject to the prohibition.
Included in the areas not protected: some parts of New Tampa, some neighborhoods off West Shore Boulevard.
It’s not like everyone can live in some of these neighborhoods anyway, let alone people who have probably spent a significant time in prison.
I think Councilman Fletcher’s motion is unnecessary. First, if the original limitation – which would probably stand up in court – has the effect of protecting virtually all of the city, why even go the extra setp. Second, this new motion will be fought in court, and could force the city to go back to the current 1,000 limitation if it is overturned.
I’m not going into the problems of pushing sex offenders out of the city, and into the county neighborhoods, where the limitation will remain at 1,000 feet. That’s entirely another problem.
For now, I will just suggest that the City should not try to enact a real ban, if the 2,500-foot limitation will have virtually the same effect.
But politicians love to do things that sound good. And there is an election coming up. Pragmatism gets thrown out the window.