June 20, 2013

Sex offender signs draw mixed reactions

6-20-2013 Florida:

Bradford County sheriff receives praise, DISAPPROVAL

It has been two months since the sheriff of rural Bradford County in northeast Florida erected signs in front of the homes of sexual predators. Two have since moved, and the signs seem to be drawing mixed reactions.

___ was convicted of molesting a child younger than 12 and battery against a teen in 2004. Two months ago, one of the signs appeared outside the campground where he lives.

The signs are the doing of Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith.

"If my wife or my daughter breaks down and she goes to beat on the door for help, I want her to know where not to go," said Smith.

State law requires the sheriff to notify residents when sex offenders or predators move into an area. Smith said the 18 signs he’s erected are better than deputies distributing flyers.

Only predators are getting these signs, and to be classified as a predator, you must have committed a violent crime, prayed on someone under the age of 12 or become a repeat offender.

"These are what I call bottom feeders," said Smith.

While the sheriff is getting praise from many, the campground owner is livid.

"They can't even get a stupid job because of something like this," said campground owner Ruby Harper.

And the son of the campground owner said the signs are a threat to an ongoing church effort to improve the campground.

"Everybody down here knew. They didn't need a sign," said Ruby's son, David Harper.

A woman with one of the churches helping residents there said the sign isn’t helping anyone.

"This individual served for 18 months and he's working very hard to turn his life around," said church volunteer Carole Stevenson.

But after two months, the sheriff is standing his ground.

"I just want people to know where these people live so that we can protect our communities," Smith said.

The signs are made by the county, cost about ten dollars, and they're put up using inmate labor. ..Source.. by News4Jax.com

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