A Playground Built to Keep Sex Offenders at Bay

The scheme was cooked up by a Daytona Beach homeowner's association.

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Daytona Beach, Florida, is exceedingly clear about where registered sex offenders may not live: anywhere within 2,500 feet of a playground, a park, a child care facility, or a school.

Ordinances like this – the state of Florida has a similar one that sets the boundary at 1,000 feet – are designed to keep known predators away from where children naturally congregate. But there's another way to look at the letter of the law: Drop a playground into your community, and the sex offenders must go.

A neighborhood in Daytona Beach has actually just tried this, which law enforcement officials believe may be the first known instance of a homeowners association wielding a playground as a shield. The idea was the brainchild of a local resident, J. Ryan Will, who works by day a prosecutor in the State Attorney's Office. As he told the Daytona Beach News-Journal:

"I just started looking for ways to keep sex offenders out of the neighborhood and I knew from my job that there were residency requirements with respect to parks and playgrounds."

The homeowner's association voted to assess each home $100 to pay for the $27,000 playground, which sits right in the middle of the only stretch of the neighborhood previously unprotected by a park or school. The scheme is pretty ingenious, although it raises an awkward question about where the sex offenders can go... presumably to those places that can't pull together a fundraising drive for a playground.

Top image: Sanit Fuangnakhon/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.