Clarence Collins, a sex predator who worked at the Pride Center for 15 years and was arrested in April for failing to re-register as a sex offender, is still behind bars.
It’s unclear why though. Collins has a bond of $2,500, which means all he needs is $250 to get out of jail.
“The entire bail system is designed to incarcerate poor people – not dangerous people,” said Broward’s Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. “The whole basis of using money is wrong headed from the get go. It allows dangerous people to get out and non dangerous poor people to remain in.”
Collins was recently assigned a new public defender, Theresa Freitas, who has yet to meet with her client.
“I will prioritize getting him out of jail,” she said.
But money should not be the issue.
After Collins was fired and then arrested a member of the community started a GoFundMe page raising $2,460.
“Our plan is for someone local to be the custodian of the money once Clarence is released,” Michael Gagne said. “Then Clarence can decide what to do with the money we raised.”
According to Gagne the money is still in the account waiting to be claimed. The issue, he said, is housing.
“[There is a group] of us trying to get Clarence released [but we] seem to be spinning our wheels,” he said. “We found housing, but have been unable to get confirmation that it can be a legal residence for Clarence. Until we do, we are at a standstill.”
Norm Kent, criminal defense attorney and SFGN publisher, disagreed with the group’s decision saying the money should have already been used to get him out of jail.
“The present situation for Mr. Collins is unconscionable and suspect,” Kent said. “Every penny of the $2,460 raised should immediately go to posting bond and getting him released.”
Sex offenders face severe restrictions in terms of where they are legally allowed to live. Collins was also charged with failing to notify law enforcement of a change of address. According to his sex offender profile his address was listed as transient for years.
The Pride Center, and its CEO Robert Boo, came under fire when it was learned Boo allowed Collins to work at the Center despite his history as a sex offender. In 2015 the Center installed a playground on its campus making Collins’ employment illegal. After Collins was initially charged with the two counts listed above, he was later charged with a third count of illegally working at the Pride Center. That charge, however, has since been dropped. It’s unclear why.
When the Collins story became public many parents in the community were outraged. Boo was ultimately suspended without pay for two weeks, while six board members of the Pride Center resigned.
“I have deposited a few hundred dollars from my own pocket into Clarence’s Commissary account throughout the last couple of months,” Gagne said. “I also have everything I need to bail Clarence out via a local bail bondsman. Again, there is nothing more we can do to get that [housing] confirmation.”