ACLU Challenges Miami Sex Offender Law

Miami has among the country’s strictest regulations concerning where registered sex offenders can reside. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken issue with some of the laws’ implications.
One of the most rigid laws that Miami has adopted is one stating that a sex offender cannot be within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, or anywhere else that children might congregate. That makes finding a place to live incredibly difficult — so difficult, in fact, that some sex offenders have actually become homeless, drifting from one unsafe place to the next.

The ACLU, as our criminal defense lawyers know, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the sex offender laws in place in Miami violate the sex offenders’ fundamental right to safety and to maintain a home.

The recent focus on Miami’s strict and often unfair sex offender regulations came to light following the transfer of dozens of homeless sex offenders from under the Julia Tuttle Causeway to a parking lot near train tracks in Hialeah, hardly a safe place to reside, yet one of the few places that is viable given the fact that sex offenders can’t go within 2,500 feet of a school or park or other such place wherein children might congregate.

The fact is, as NPR has noted, requiring sex offenders to stay 2,500 feet away from the above-mentioned types of places essentially excludes “almost every neighborhood in the country” from the list of possible places to live. In this sense, the law, which is designed to promote the public welfare, is actually causing homelessness and an otherwise avoidable threat to the public safety.

The 2,500 feet rule is relatively new regulation, signed into law in 2010 after the issue of homeless sex offenders living by the Julia Tuttle Causeway came to light on national scale, embarrassing city officials. Before that, as our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County criminal defense lawyers know, Miami had on the books a law requiring that sex offenders not go within 1,000 feet of the above-mentioned places.

It seems that every time one of the sex offender laws backfire, lawmakers just make the rules stricter. If this pattern continues, sex offenders will eventually be pushed out so far that they’ll have to take up residency in the oceans. (This is an exaggeration, of course, but the point is that simply adding thousands of feet to the distances from which sex offenders must stay away from children won’t solve the issue; if anything, it makes other problems, such as homelessness, far worse.)

If you have any questions about this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County criminal defense lawyers by calling us at 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to hearing from you.

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