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PBS’s Pervert Park , a documentary by Swedish filmmakers Frida and Lasse Barkfors, aired last night. I was so hoping that the show would help “light a fire for change”, but instead I found it to be rather disappointing and depressing.
The residents of Florida Justice Transitions trailer park, nicknamed Pervert Park by neighbors, is home to 120 male and female sex offenders who reside there while living out their probations. The range of their offences varied from non-contact internet to violent, contact rape. Their stories reveal histories of past famliy sexual abuse, drugs, life-tragedies and police internet stings.
Staff is made up of ex-offenders. The park was founded in 1996 by Nancy Morais whose own son once had trouble finding appropriate housing.
At the onset of the show one resident requests that another resident not bring friends into the park who make “baby raper” comments. Another resident has found a sack of “dead rats” in his dryer. A third resident reports in the past he had been confronted by a neighbor from outside the park for “stalking” some young children, when all he was doing was standing outside minding his own business. (This particular incident seems to actually have had a happy ending, a confrontation which led to a discussion and finally to a friendship of sorts.)
The park setting was depressing, the interviews with SO’s were depressing, the open group discussions were depressing. Information regarding readily available public phone apps that locate SO’s and give all their personal vital statistics was depressing. Talk of electronic monitoring, frequency of having to register, the details of the degrading sex offender testing , all depressing.
I was hoping to hear something, anything, with regards to what was being done to try to change the negative image this trailer park has been given. Instead all I heard was how there is no healing in the justice system, no forgiving, only on-going punishment for SO’s.
A few comments were made that SO’s are treated the way they are because society doesn’t know any better. Society never hears anything from the SO’s. The SO’s need to stand up for themselves because no one else is going to stand up for them.
It is time for those on the registry to stand up for themselves. Society only knows what they hear in the media. If society never hears from the people who are actually being affected by the registry, if the problems it causes aren’t brought out in the open and discussed then the problem will only continue.