Sex Offenders Forced Homeless
June 22, 2009 2:38 AM   Subscribe

Miami sex offenders law causes homeless problems. Politicians can't act for fear of being demonised, public won't act presumably for their fear of the demons. I'm sure there's a Miami Vice pun here somewhere...
posted by sunkzero (20 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: single link to a touchy issue and the pun angle really isn't that cool. maybe start over with cavalier's links? -- jessamyn

Reading the news, eh sunkzero? Bit of the blog bit you?

Can you provide any more details or points to consider other than then a single news source link, is what I'm getting at...
posted by cavalier at 2:53 AM on June 22, 2009

If you've been around long enough to criticize someone for a single link newsfilter, then you've also been around long enough to know that the way to deal with it is by flagging and moving on, rather than dropping trou and pinching off a loaf right at the start of a thread.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:03 AM on June 22, 2009 [14 favorites]

You have a beautiful way with words, Peter. So nuanced, so subtle.

I found the article interesting, and don't think it deserves to be flagged. It's a single link to a bit of news, but hopefully someone will dig some more info up and post it here in the comments. I, for one, am curious about this.

Also, the least they could do is put that bridge over a nude beach, eh?
posted by premiumpolar at 3:14 AM on June 22, 2009

Sorry my first attempt at a post! I couldn't find it referenced on any news sources except local Miami news publications and the BBC hardly published it as a front page story so I thought it worthy of attention and discussion.

C- Must Try Harder? :P
posted by sunkzero at 3:22 AM on June 22, 2009

Think I read it here but too tired to search deeper - here's the same story from a year and a half ago.
posted by item at 3:33 AM on June 22, 2009

sex offender registration is a bit ridiculous. if they need to be registered for fear they are dangerous, then keep them in jail. if they have served their time, then let them go.

we don't register heroin addicts, or murderers, or drunk drivers.
posted by Flood at 4:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

We have a similar law in GA, with similar predictable consequenses.
posted by TedW at 5:23 AM on June 22, 2009

Please don't equate heroin addicts to sex offenders, murderers, or drunk drivers.
posted by item at 5:23 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

we don't register heroin addicts, or murderers, or drunk drivers.
Would parole not cover this?
posted by PenDevil at 5:26 AM on June 22, 2009

you've also been around long enough to know that the way to deal with it is by flagging and moving on, rather than dropping trou and pinching off a loaf right at the start of a thread.

Also, that will get you on the sex offenders list.
posted by pracowity at 5:44 AM on June 22, 2009

posted by localroger at 5:49 AM on June 22, 2009

Would parole not cover this?

Parole is when someone is released from prison before serving their full sentence, with the remainder of their sentence contingent on meeting the conditions of the parole.

These people have already served their full sentences. They're not under parole, they're not on probation, they have served their time and been completely released. Under Maryland law, at least, they're even eligible to get their voting rights back. They're done. Except, thanks to the registry, they're not, and never will be for the rest of their lives.
posted by kafziel at 5:52 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm a little confused about how making someone live under a bridge isn't an Eighth Amendment violation.


A few threads back I mentioned a friend of mine who is a prosecutor. He told me a story about a standoff with a judge during plea negotiation a few years back.

There had been this sex offender (underlying offense unrelated to children, by the way) who had been released and was having a hard time finding a place to live. He had thought he'd had one, but when he went to the police station to register the address, they told him it was in fact too close to a park. Before he could find another place, he was charged with failure to register in time. During the first pre-trial conference with the defendant, a more senior prosecutor had offered a plea deal of no jail if he could find a place to live by the second conference (when the judge would be present).

Well the second conference came around and my buddy was on plea negotiations that day, and refused to revoke the offer the more senior ADA had made. Apparently the judge was pissed (I think in that jurisdiction, recommendations without action are considered insufficient consideration for the plea, so the judge is essentially bound by the prosecutor's recommendation). They argued back and forth until the ADA just said, look, I don't have the authority under the DA's policy to revoke an offer made by a higher-up.
posted by jock@law at 6:08 AM on June 22, 2009

Would parole not cover this?

Parole is for a limited time for most people, and it's in lieu of being in Jail. You can get out of fail without parole if you serve your entire sentence.

With the sex offender registration, you serve your time and then spend the rest of your time on the list.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2009

The ironic thing about sex offender registration is that it's supposed to make "neighborhoods" safer but actually harms the social fabric because it just makes everyone eye one another suspiciously.

Is THAT The House?
No, I think that one is.
Either way, I'm not letting my kids walk over the grandma's house because they have to cross That Block.
posted by DU at 6:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

PeterMcDermott: [...]the way to deal with it is by flagging and moving on[...]

Guilty. Fair enough. We could go on about how you could have just flagged my comment, and I could say well sometimes it just stinks so much you have to say something, but then we'd yada yada yada....

So instead, I've got a few minutes, let's see if I can put my money where my mouth is:

Jessica Lunsford, a 9 year old girl, left this world in a brutal and horrible way. Her abductor, John Evander Couey, was a registered sex offender at the time he abducted her. The egregrious nature of the crime combined with Couey's previous sexual assaults against children led to a public outcry over how he managed to get near a girl again.

The State of Florida's legislature responded with HR1877 -- a bill which became colloquially known as the Jessica Lunsford act. The Florida state Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability released a report of the bill's implementation here.

The bill essentially "got more tough" on sex offenders in the state -- mandatory sentences, stronger penalties for a minor under the age of 12, more registration procedures. After being passed, local municipal counties inside the state of Florida proceeded to implement the new policies -- as well as enhance their own.

The US Department of Justice has a fact sheet here that talks about the success of locations implementing "Residency laws" -- essentially limiting places registered sex offenders may live by keeping them X feet away from places where children gather. Quoting their sheet, "As of 2007, some 27 states and hundreds of municipalities had enacted laws that bar sex offenders from residing near schools, parks, playgrounds and day care centers." There are several links that could be made for the concept of residency laws with regards to sex offenders but I can't find enough to balance pro/con so maybe that's somebody else's post.

Anyhow, here's where Miami-Dade county (the municipal county which encompasses Miami) takes it to the next level. After HR1877 passes they expand on it with their own county ordinance which expands sex offender residency limitation by preventing them from living within 2,500 feet of where children might gather.

Here's the thing, like most major metropolitan cities you can't really go less than 2,500 feet without running into some children. In Miami, this relegates them to attempting to live inside the Everglades swamp, or under a narrow tract of the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

So here we are. The ACLU, et al are all mobilizing to bring some sense to this issue. Last year, a group tried to build a website for their cause, but it looks like an empty domain now. A group called SOSEN is attempting to produce a documentary of the conditions. Some of the group's work is on YouTube here. Hoo boy.

Earlier this month the Miami city manager attempted to loophole the state into moving the camp -- the state, because the causeway is effectively under the state's jurisdiction, and the loophole -- a tiny spoil island out on the water could be considered a "park" -- so they can't stay there. Miami Herald link here. Didn't work. Just a bunch of state agencies playing "Not me" as they let the folks fester there.

Neighboring Florida counties are also looking at the Miami Dade county solution, if you can call it that. Neighboring Broward county (Ft Lauderdale, etc) voted for a 90 day version of the 2,500 foot radius to see how things pan out -- story here.

Previous media links:

NPR - All Things Considered - ran a piece here.
Miami New Times (Miami alternative weekly) -- here, here, here, here.
ABC from earlier this year: here.
CNN from 2007 - here.

Still not terrifically cited, but at least there's some meat in there. It's screwed. What is the worth of a sexual predator, since we can't seem to reform them, but we don't want to incarcerate them, where do you put them? Miami's put them under a bridge.
posted by cavalier at 6:56 AM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

DU: Either way, I'm not letting my kids walk over the grandma's house because they have to cross That Block.

The really disturbing thing is that because of some confluence of the sex offender registry and Dateline specials, people go to the registry website and see every dot as the location of a child molester and/or rapist.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:59 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another problem with the sex offender registration is how much gets swept into it.

One guy, a drunk, was stumbling home from a bar in the middle of the night. Stopped to pee under the bleechers of a local high school, where he passed out. The next morning, high schoolers found him with his pants down under the bleachers. Lewd behavior, and now he is a registered sex offender - for the rest of his life!
posted by Flood at 7:06 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow good summary cavalier. I only know of Jessica's Law through Bill O'Reilly's impassioned tirades on states that have not passed a version of it. If only we'd see such passion in creating what I'd like to call Bernie's Law, which would put the board of directors of fallen banks and hedge funds, under the Brooklyn Bridge. They can't live within 2,500 feet of an ATM or financial institution.
posted by geoff. at 7:09 AM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]

I believe that sex offenders are a neighborhood problem, if that is the right word, because stats suggest that there simply is no cure for what they do, want to do, need to do, and the only "cure" is either keeping them in jail permanently or castration. Drug addicts generally are a problem to themselves, mostly.

As for where the sex offenders are here forced to live, there is plenty of evidence that lots of non-offenders are now forced to live on the strets or in shelters or in tent cities.

I am saddened that so fine a site as this onehas the mean spirited, snarky, silly , caustic remarks listed as "comments."
posted by Postroad at 7:39 AM on June 22, 2009

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