JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Wednesday night, kids will be hitting the streets to trick or treat. As they go door to door, they may be passing the homes of sex offenders.
In Florida, there are more than 40,000 registered sex offenders, and in the Fairfield neighborhood off Talleyrand Avenue, there is a high concentration of convicted sex offenders. Within a one-mile radius of John Love Elementary School, there are more than 100 registered sex offenders and 8 predators. It's a school that has no busing, so some of the kids walk.
Marvine Poole is raising her five grandchildren in this neighborhood, and is like many residents here. She had no idea so many sex offenders and predators were close to her home.
"You just have to pray and keep them close to you. They don't understand. They want to play and go out in the neighborhood and everything," said Poole.
While the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is required to notify residents of sexual predators living in their neighborhood, the law only requires residents to be notified within 48 hours of a predator moving into the area.
If you move in after a predator, it's up to you to check online to see where they live. And while sex offender registries can be great tools, JSO said don't let them give you a false sense of security. Only those convicted since 1993 are required to register.
JSO Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda said, "There are people who have gotten out of jail and out of prison that are convicted of sexual battery that got out prior to that law being enacted in 1993. They are not involved, they are not labeled. That's something people need to be aware of. You may be living next to someone arrested and convicted prior to that law being enacted."
In Florida, not all sex offenders are classified as predators. It depends on the conviction. Predators cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park, or playground. In Duval County it's even stricter. Predators can't live within 2,500 feet of those areas, but some sex offenders, depending on their conviction, don't have any restrictions.
"I am not under the 1,000 foot rule. I can live where ever I want to live."
A sex offender who agreed to talk to us if we didn't identify him was convicted of attempted sexual battery on a child in the '90s. He's now in his 60s and said he ended up in this neighborhood through a re-entry program when he was released from prison. It's a house he said used to be solely for sex offenders, until a day care opened nearby.
The unidentified sex offender said, "With us being here, they shouldn't have accepted that application but they did and then they approved it, which stopped us from being able to house any more sex offenders. Who is here is grandfathered in. They can't make us leave, but if I leave or one of us was to leave, we cannot come back to the same house."
Having so many sex offenders and predators concentrated in one area makes one mom and day care operator we talked to nervous.
"I just do everything i can to make sure my kids are safe. I don't let them come out in the front to play. They are only allowed to be in the backyard but i don't let them freely walk up and down the street because I don't feel safe ... Even when I get out to take the kids to the van or to the car, I have to make sure they are right behind me where there is no way no one can snatch them. I'm just extra protective about that situation and everything going on over here."
Reporter: "Can you understand the mindset of parents and grandparents?"
Sex offender: "I can understand the mindset but like I said, each conviction is different. It depends on the type of conviction it is. When you are labeled a sex offender, they think you are a child rapist or a predator when you might not be."
Six of the eight predators living in this area are listed as transients on The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's registry.
"If the transients have somewhere where they are laying their heads at night every single day as their address changes they have to notify the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office where that change is occurring," Bujeda said. "That's why JSO Offender Watch is updated in the moment as they register. We do random checks to verify that is where they are staying."
But some who are required to register have not. At last check, JSO had 45 active warrants for everything from failure to comply with requirements to failure to report address change. With nearly 1,700 registered sex offenders in Jacksonville, they are not just confined to this one neighborhood. They live in all sections of town and are from all different backgrounds.
Check the state and JSO Offender Watch registries to monitor your area. Be sure to check them both and check them frequently because they are updated daily.
On Halloween, sex offenders and predators in Jacksonville are required to post a sign in their yard saying "No candy or treats at this residence," and they can't have any outside lights on or participate in Halloween activities.
JSO's Offender Unit will be out in full force checking to make sure they are following the laws. First for You, we'll be out checking too to see if they're following the law. We'll show you what we find Wednesday night on First Coast News at 11. We'll also talk to a woman who was sexually abused as a child and shares important information for parents to help protect their children.
First for You, here are some ways to keep your kids safe:
-Walk your child's route to school or to the bus stop or to parks where they play.
-Check the addresses along the way to see if they walk directly by a home with a registered sex offender. You can show your kids pictures of offenders in the area so they know who to avoid.
First Coast News