Sexual Predator Distance Bill Voted Down In Jacksonville Council Committee

Jan 2, 2018

A proposal to allow sexual predators to live closer to Jacksonville daycares, playgrounds and parks is not getting strong support at City Hall.  A Council committee Tuesday voted against the idea.

The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Bill Gulliford said the current distance requirement is limiting where businesses can open.

In Jacksonville sex predators must live at least 2,500 feet away from daycares and other kid-focused places. Gulliford wants to reduce that to 1,500 feet.

When the bill was introduced in September, he said it was because a proposed child care center was about 100 feet too close to the residence of a sexual predator.

Related: Councilman: Jacksonville Sexual Predator Distance Requirement Limiting Business

Tuesday, Gulliford told his colleagues on the council’s Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health & Safety Committee, his proposed reduction to 1,500 feet  is still a greater distance that what state law requires — a 1,000 foot boundary.

“The real problem is that this is legislation that sort of makes people feel good but is grossly ineffective when you look at the reality of the whole thing,” Gulliford said. “In reality, the best protection that can be afforded to those kids is in the area of the daycare security itself or the school’s security itself or the park’s security itself or whatever.”

However, his argument didn’t sway the committee. Councilman Greg Anderson, who voted no, said he’s going to do more research on best practices before the bill hits Wednesday’s Rules committee.

“I just don’t have any data that tells me 1,500 is right, 2,500 is wrong other than the state requirement,” Anderson said.

Councilman John Crescimbeni, a yes vote, still voiced reservations, saying he doesn’t want the distance requirement to continually creep down every time a business has an issue with it.

Although the bill failed in a committee, it’s not dead. Pending no deferrals, the full council will have the ultimate vote next week after two more committees give their recommendations

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.