Longtime readers know all about the problems with the Julia Tuttle Causeway, where homeless sex offenders have lived under a concrete overpass partly as a result of severe residency restrictions. The Miami Herald is reporting that most sex offenders who have lived there have been moved out, and those that remain will be relocated elsewhere. The article also points out that this effort will not solve the problem of sex offender homelessness, but will merely place them further out of sight. From the article:
Under a clear and brisk sky, with traffic booming overhead, work crews took sledge hammers to the wooden shacks, shingled huts and flimsy tents along the bank of Miami's gleaming Intracoastal waterway.
Most of the homeless sex offenders who lived here have been moved out, and the few who remain are on a short waiting list for housing that falls within Miami-Dade County's revised sex-offender law.
"It's the end of the Julia Tuttle, but it's not the end of this kind of place,'' said Patrick, a registered sex offender who has lived under the rat-infested bridge for three years and did not give his last name. "There will be another Julia Tuttle, another place where people will put us so that we are out of sight and out of mind.''
In the past decade, more than two dozen states and hundreds of cities have responded to the public outcry over sex crimes against children by passing residency restrictions. In many cases, the laws have effectively banned sex offenders and predators from living within huge swaths of cities and towns -- separating them from their families and support systems -- and settling them far from transportation and job opportunities.
By rendering them homeless, experts say, the laws make it more difficult for them to re-enter society, harder for law enforcement to keep track of them and easier for them to fall into lawlessness.
In South Florida, the zones that were carved out over the past few years forced sex offenders to live at least 2,500 feet from almost anywhere where children congregate: schools, libraries, bus stops, playgrounds and parks.
Not all sex offenders are hard-core predators or child rapists. Some of them are referred to as having committed "Romeo and Juliet'' crimes, which involve intimate relations -- not always sex -- among young couples, one of whom is under the age of 16. However, by law, all the offenders are lumped into the same category, and end up being labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives, whether they raped a child or urinated in a public place where children play.