Homeless Sex Offenders Suing to Live in Miami-Dade

Barred from living near large groups of kids, sex offenders live under a bridge

By Todd Wright
|  Friday, Jul 10, 2009  |  Updated 8:12 AM EDT
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Homeless Sex Offenders Suing to Live in Miami-Dade

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The men living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway are suing the county for better living accommodations.

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Sex offenders living in Miami-Dade can live wherever they want as long as it's not near a place where children congregate, like a park or a school. Oh, and that movie theater and that church or that arcade or basically anywhere in the county.

The rules have been so stringent on living quarters that a collection of men have only had one place they can call home -- under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge.

But apparently the sex offenders have had enough with sleeping in tents on a concrete floors while cars roar over head.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the men, saying the county's ordinances and laws meant to keep tabs on sex offenders who have already paid their debt to society are too stringent and basically exclude them from living in Miami-Dade.

In turn, the county plans to sue the state to try and force the eviction of the sex offenders from under the bridge. Leaders voted Thursday to sue because the encampment is 1,200 feet away from an island commissioners consider to be a public park.

The county law prohibits such offenders from living with 2,500 feet of children. The state law sets the mark at 1,000 feet but gives discretion to local government to come up with their own rules of engagement.

The lawsuit argues that Miami-Dade's ordinance has forced about 70 sex offenders to live under the bridge because they can't find
anywhere else to live. Many others are homeless or have absconded, according to the ACLU.

That's bad for authorities, who like to keep tabs on sex offenders even after they have been released from prison.

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