Miami-dade Sex Offender Restrictions Under Fire for Being Unlivable
March 18, 2014
Described by some as “draconian,” the Miami-Dade sex offender statute is forcing offenders into a life of homelessness and squalor.
Essentially, because of the strict requirements of the Miami-Dade sex offender statute, offenders are rendered homeless, migrating from one temporary housing site to another. Just when it seems like they have found a permanent housing solution, a new school opens or a business is newly designated as a child care facility nearby, and offenders have to move or be evicted.
The Miami New Times is reporting that a Miami-Dade sex offender ordinance has so severely limited where sex offenders can live that dozens of people have been forced to sleep in tents under the Julia Tuttle Causeway or on Hialeah railroad tracks with no running water or bathrooms. Many of these men have jobs and can afford housing, but because of the statute, they have been zoned out of any potential living arrangement.
Trouble has been brewing since 2005 with the passing of a Miami Beach ordinance that effectively banned offenders from its mile-wide island with a new law restricting them from living within 2,500 feet of parks and schools - more than twice the distance mandated by the state. Fearing an influx of sex offenders from the Beach to the mainland, Miami-Dade passed an identical countywide law later that year, leaving offenders in a housing purgatory.
Issues with the law isn’t one-sided. On one hand, offenders are relegated to temporary, makeshift living quarters, so law enforcement and probation officers can’t track where sex offenders are living or if they are abiding by curfews–which is another requirement of the statute. As a result, some offenders have completely disappeared off the grid, rendering their status as a sex offender useless.
On the other hand, there has also been pubic outcry about the laws, with complaints that the law is irrational and counterproductive. Data shows that the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by friends and family members of the victims and that 87 percent of sex offenders have no prior record. Studies also show that living under extreme duress - like sleeping on train tracks or under a bridge- only exacerbates criminal tendencies.
Clearly a better, more thoughtful way to deal with sex offenders must occur. But while it appears both public safety and the rights of offenders are in jeopardy, the county law has never faced any serious attempts at reform– notwithstanding promises by policymakers that these issues will be fixed statewide and locally. In spite of these promises, sources have told our Miami Criminal Defense Attorneys that as many as six additional bills are circulating through the Florida House and Senate, further limiting the rights of sex offenders.
If you have been charged with a Miami-Dade County Sex Crime, you need an attorney who has a proven track record of defending these cases and obtaining positive results for their clients. The attorneys at Law Office of Whittel & Melton are dedicated to defending those wrongly accused of Sexual Battery, Rape, Sexual Assault and Statutory Rape and other Sex Offenses, as well as fighting illegal sex offender designations by the Courts.
Call us today to discuss your case.
Local (561) 367-8777 or statewide, toll-free: (866) 608-5529.