Still a scandal: Stories about people on the sex offense registry living under a Miami highway, the Julia Tuttle Causeway, became national and even international news. Years later, after several moves, the encampment continues and the scandal remains. Miami New Times has a fresh feature story which puts the blame squarely on local and state laws, so-called residency restrictions, that work to banish registrants from housing opportunities and push them into homelessness and squalor. In the face of much criticism and bad press Florida lawmakers are, so far, shameless, let’s hope pending lawsuits meet with success. That’s what it took in California where the state’s top court did major surgery on residency restrictions in 2015. In a new editorial, the Santa Rosa, California newspaper looks back at the awfulness – including continuing homelessness — wrought by residency restrictions and endorses further changes to harsh sex offense laws. Finally, Wikipedia takes note of the infamous Julia Tuttle Causeway camp with an entry that makes plain the curious role of Ron Book, Florida’s most powerful lobbyist. Have a look! -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire
Miami New Times | Aug. 8, 2017
Hundreds of Miami Sex Offenders Live in a Squalid Tent City Near Hialeah
By Isabella Gomes
Excerpts: Less than a block away, pitched along both sides of the road, are 28 camping tents. In them live scores of registered sex offenders. The encampment is the result of a 2005 county law — much stricter than a similar measure passed by the state ten years earlier — that imposes restrictions on where sexual offenders and predators may live. It eliminated many residential neighborhoods, public housing complexes, and homeless shelters. So the offenders were exiled to live under a Dolphin Expressway overpass, then the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and a spot near the Miami River. In 2014, the colony moved to this block between train tracks in the warehouse district.
No one argues that their crimes, which include everything from sexting with minors on dating apps to raping children, aren’t serious. But critics of the camp consider it an outrage that human beings are forced to live in such horrendous conditions — in some cases, for several years. Although it’s been three years since New Times described the encampment as a sanitation and security nightmare where offenders are forced to defecate in public with no running water, occupants say it has only increased in density.
But the head of the county’s Homeless Trust, Ron Book, a major facilitator of the law in 2014, still abides by his original judgment: “The Constitution doesn’t guarantee where you can live when you break the law,” he says. He adds that the county has housing where offenders can go, though he can’t name any. (Local shelters say they are too close to schools.) MORE:
The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA) | Aug. 1, 2017
EDITORIAL: Sex offenders who are homeless are the greater risk
Excerpts: The California Supreme Court made the right call in 2015 when it struck down the most onerous provisions of Proposition 83, known as Jessica’s Law, which prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school — essentially banning them from finding housing in most cities and suburbs.
In so doing, the measure also kept them away from drug and alcohol treatment facilities, counseling, family and support groups as well as limited their ability to connect with parole officers. A study conducted not long after the measure was approved in 2006 found that more than 70 percent of registered sex offenders in San Diego County were already violating the provisions of the law and had to move. Many did and are still moving. Studies have found that since then, the number of homeless sex offenders in California have more than tripled. But trying to reduce the number of homeless registered sex offenders won’t be easy, and it likely will require greater reforms to the state’s severe — and sometimes lifelong — restrictions on sex offenders.
When offenders lack permanent housing and stability, they are harder for law enforcement officers to track and more prone to violate the terms of their release. Homeless registered sex offenders are a far greater risk than those who have been able to transition back into community life, find stable homes and jobs near family connections. MORE:
Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony
The Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony (also called “Bookville” by former residents) was an encampment of banished, registered sex offenders who were living beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway—a highway in Miami, Florida, USA—from 2006 to April 2010.
The colony was created by a lobbyist named Ron Book, who wrote ordinances in several different Miami-Dade County cities to restrict convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, or homeless shelters. Since Book was also head of the Miami Homeless Trust, he was also in charge of finding housing for the released sexual offenders.
Under these ordinances, the only areas where sex offenders could legally reside within Miami-Dade County were the Miami Airport and the Florida Everglades. Miami-Dade laws are significantly stricter than State of Florida laws on residency restrictions for sex offenders. Florida State Law required that no sex offender could live within 2,000 ft from “where children gather”. Under that requirement, housing was possible; however, because of Book’s lobbying, the Dade County Commission increased that number to 2,500 ft, thereby banishing hundreds of local citizens who then began gathering under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. MORE: