Clay County approves act to better protect families against sex offenders, predators

Act lists specific restrictions during Halloween

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Commissioners in Clay County have approved an act that’s designed to strengthen protections for children and families against convicted sexual offenders and sexual predators.

The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the Clay County Sexual Offender and Sexual Predator Act. The legislation increases temporary and permanent residency restrictions from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet from any schools, childcare facilities, parks and playgrounds.

Offenders who were convicted prior to the act are exempt from the 2,000 feet restriction. So are minors and adult offenders who were minors when they were convicted.

The act defines Child Safety Zones as 300 feet from any schools, childcare facilities, parks, playgrounds and school bus stops. It prohibits predators from loitering in those locations.

Specific restrictions will be placed on sexual offenders and predators when it comes to Halloween. It prohibits them from using exterior lights, putting up decorations, distributing candy and wearing costumes.

“Anything they can do to make it a little bit safer for kids is great,” said Jacob Bashaw, a parent in Clay County.

Shamia Brown is a parent of two young children. She said Halloween is a time of the year when children are extremely vulnerable.

“The kids are walking around by themselves, and you never know what offenders have planned or what they are trying to put in their bucket," Brown said.

The act allows the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to collect fees during the initial registration, re-registration and registration modifications of sexual offenders and predators. The fees will be used by the Sheriff’s Office for crime prevention, drug education and safe neighborhoods programs.

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