July 8, Updated: July 11, at Pervert Park casts an unblinking eye on these residents, describing their crimes upon children, or else falling for online stings. A few suggest they could do it again. The documentary, debuting tonight on PBS, asks viewers to empathize with them, adjusting to pariah life after prison. That's where Florida Justice Transitions, a privately operated support agency, formerly housed and monitored its clients, offering counseling and addiction therapy.
Transitions, as it's known, has since moved its housing program to Clearwater, after a dispute with the Palace park's owner that is still in litigation. The idea for the documentary came from a Danish newspaper article, painting the community as "this parallel society, a kind of freak place" wishing to remain separated from the outside world. When we actually came to the park, we realized there was more to tell.
It felt almost like a test, seeing if we are up for doing this. But they continued to visit the Palace, where a new group of residents lived by the time 23 days of filming began in Once we got trust, it kind of spread, like rings on water.
Most residents are frustrated by the enduring stigma of being labeled as a sexual offender, described by one as "being set up for failure every day. A few years later, he continued the cycle by molesting a younger child. They listened to residents like Jamie Turner, a purple-haired something who answered a Craigslist ad for sex with a year-old woman.
She then offered her underage daughter joining, and he accepted. It was an online sting operation. Turner went to prison for one year. Transitions president Jim Broderick said the Barkforses "did a very good job with a difficult subject. We never realized that sex offenders are treated the way they are," Broderick said. They disagree with complaints that Pervert Park ignores the perspective of sexual abuse victims.
But in the long-term we need to focus much more on treatment and prevention than we do.