The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Friday, January 27, 2006

ACLU, Warming up to Sex Offenders

I know it's a day late, but I have a good excuse. I'm just not sharing it with you. Regardless, here is my Thursday Stop the ACLU required reading post.

I managed to find something that deals with the ACLU, Sex Offenders and a place I once lived. I should start by telling you that today- it's 65 in Orlando- with the next few days registering in the 70's.

Raymond Houston, 45, of Cocoa, who is disabled and living on a fixed income, meets all of the requirements for the Weatherization Program, a federally funded energy-conservation effort.

But Brevard officials added a prerequisite that prohibits Houston and other felons from participating. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit in Orlando, say that policy violates federal law.

Brevard leaders, however, refused to back down.

"We only have so much money to go around, maybe $10,000 or $20,000," Brevard County Commission Chairman Ron Pritchard said. "The list of applicants far exceeds the amount of money, and I'm not about to use scarce resources on somebody who was convicted of such a heinous crime.''

Houston, who wants his doors weatherstripped and a hot-water heater replaced, was convicted in 1994 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 16. He was sentenced to 4 1/2 years of probation.

"There was a house party, she was underage, and I was stupid,'' said Houston, adding that he has been off probation for six years.

ACLU attorneys and the state Department of Community Affairs said Houston's prior conviction should have no bearing on his request for assistance.

"This is just more posturing by Florida politicians to look tough on crime and on people with past felony convictions," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. "What does denying funds to low-income people to save on energy costs have to do with fighting crime?"

The federal Energy Conservation and Production Act offers help to low-income residents to encourage energy conservation. The U.S. Department of Energy mandates that qualification for assistance be based solely on income.

Simon said the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando after repeated attempts by Houston and the ACLU to urge Brevard officials to comply with the provisions governing the federal-grant program. The suit seeks to have the work done on Houston's home as well as unspecified damages.

State officials also warned Brevard that it was overstepping its boundaries.

In a letter dated Aug. 22, 2005, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, which oversees federal grants, told the county that it could not add eligibility requirements which are more restrictive than the federal regulations.

Brevard's policy barring felons extends beyond just the homeowner. It also requires that if any household member is a felon, he or she must have civil rights restored or have been pardoned to receive assistance.

"No one in Brevard County is made any safer by the County Commission's vindictive policy to deny weatherization assistance to people with felony convictions," said Glenn Pinfield, president of the ACLU's Brevard chapter.

But according to Pritchard, there are simply "so many other deserving people."

"I guess we'll just have to iron this out in court," he said.
Sex offender sues to get home weatherstripped - State News

It's not that I deny the right to anyone to be warm... but it's bad enough that my money supports criminals while they spend time in jail, on probation and every other tax payer funded expense. Why on earth should I have to watch the "kids next door" freeze while a convicted criminal gets weather stripping? When dealing with limited funding, they should have priorities- and honestly, sex offenders shouldn't be one of them. If after all the other people are taken care of there is money left over- then okay, let the criminals get assistance. But until then, my tax money has supported them enough.

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thpunishrr said...

I hope Brevard county sticks to its guns. The ACLU is a joke.