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Pervert Park review


Directed By: Frida and Lasse Barfor

Florida Justice Transitions, aka "Pervert Park," is a place unlike any other, it's the home of roughly 100 convicted and registered sex offenders. All the residents are in different stages of passing through the judicial system and (like sex offenders from other states) they aren't allowed to live within 1000 feet of anyplace you might regularly find children.

The film is composed almost entirely of disturbingly honest interviews that were at times painful to watch. Co-directors Frida and Lasse Barkfor made an incredibly bold decision in not passing judgement on their subjects who could have and (many would argue) should be demonized. One of the more salient points of the film, is that our black and white reactions to all sex offenders are simplistic and possibly damaging to our society as a whole. We cast judgement without deliberation and won't entertain descent. Who in their right mind after all would stand up for the rights of these monsters?

Because we learn about our subjects through their own words it's hard if not impossible to feel some degree of empathy for them. We are put inside their personal experiences and forced to reckon with our own thoughts on sexual predators. The vast majority of the residents are victims of sexual and physical abuse who are filled with regret. The regret doesn't seem to come from a place of "oops, I got caught" but from a self-awareness gained through hours of group therapy and private introspection. These men and women are completely aware of the damage they have left in their destructive wakes.

A compelling and challenging film about the people you would move away from and never knowingly invite into your home, Pervert Park takes a decidedly unique path and follows the everyday life of sex offenders. It tells the story of how these individuals are attempting to find their place in society and in turn it gives viewers a chance to analyze the endless cycle of sexual abuse.

The film ends with some statistics about the recidivism rates among sex offenders that were quite surprising. It turns out while the overall number of sex crimes has increased dramatically in the last several years but the recidivism rates are among the lowest of all criminals, among the residents of the park its less than 1%.    

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