Registered Sex Offenders: Suing to Find a Place to Live

          It seems that the thorny issue of where registered sex offenders should be allowed to live just won't go away.  In 2007, I wrote an article entitled "Sex Offenders:  Where Can They Live?," and in 2008 I wrote an article entitled "Where Can You Live in Florida if You Are a Registered Sex Offender?"  Palm Beach Post staff writer John Lantigua has now written an article entitled "Registered sex offenders:  Where can they live?"


          In his article, Mr. Lantigua reports that just last week the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued Miami-Dade County over an ordinance that prohibits individuals convicted of sex crimes involving minors from living within 2,500 feet of such places as schools, playgrounds, and school bus stops.  According to the article, however, the ACLU is not suing out of a concern for the safety of those sex offenders living under a bridge but rather out of a concern for the safety of the general public.


          In that regard, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida is quoted as saying that "[p]eople have to realize that making them live under that bridge has created a more dangerous situation.  Because of the conditions, some of these individuals are absconding, evading supervision.  These ordinances interfere with the Department of Corrections' ability to keep track of them.  This is a crisis situation."


          Apparently, the Florida Department of Corrections--the agency in charge of supervising sex offenders--agrees.  A spokesperson for that agency is quoted as saying that "[o]ur concern is for public safety.  If they are homeless there is more of a chance they will abscond.  There are already 91 homeless offenders around the state, mostly in South Florida, and the problem is getting bigger."


          When two unlikely bedfellows such as the ACLU and the Florida Department of Corrections agree on something as serious as where registered sex offenders should be allowed to live, perhaps it's time to change the law.

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