James Roy Melton Jr. is a convicted child sex offender in the state of Florida. Even after his conviction, however, he had been able to secure work as a camp counselor and sadly, it is unknown exactly how many children may have been abused by him. The summer of 1997 was the summer that Melton Jr. was able to work at the summer camp and the laws have still not been changed.
The state of Florida does have laws in place to protect children from sex offenders, but in one of the most obvious places, summer camp, laws don’t provide or mandate any type of reporting or enforcement. Though it has been almost 15 years since Melton Jr. worked at the camp and he has been in prison ever since, Florida residents are puzzled as to why nothing has been done to change these laws. When earlier reports surfaced in 2010 lawmakers like Senate President Mike Haridopolos; Stuart Rep. William Snyder, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Sen. Ronda Storms, head of the Senate’s Children and Families Committee all promised swift change, but didn’t follow through in 2011
As it stands, Florida summer camps are effectively unregulated in regards to licensing and screening of employees and volunteers. In fact, the state has no idea how many camps there are in Florida nor do they have any information on the people who run them. Once James Roy Melton is released he could set up a camp without any license, invite children in and who knows what may happen. It is thought that Melton Jr. abused at least 12 children when he was at the camp in 1997, but even now, since nothing is regulated when it comes to camp, it is unknown if there were just 12 or possibly more.
There are only six states in the nation who do not regulate camps and Florida is by far the largest of them. It is known and on record that lawmakers have been made aware of this situation since at least the mid 1980s. The legislature could decide to authorize third party screening companies like backgroundchecks.com to carry out and certify checks. This company has dedicated programs allowing sponsoring organizations to set screening standards and compel employees and volunteers in participating organizations to go through basic or advanced background checks, which nearly always includes a product like the US Offender OneSEARCH which instantly checks sex offender registries throughout the US.
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