The Apocalypse must be near.
When the Miami Herald editorializes that "State and local officials have a misguided, narrow-minded approach to dealing with sex offenders: banish them from existence. Trouble is, this approach doesn't work. People can't be made to disappear, not even convicted sex offenders. Yet elected and public leaders keep trying", well, hell....has just frozen over.
The city that never met a sex offender not instantly categorized as unworthy of a decent life, this statement issued by the hugely conservative paper is the ultimate tipping point in the issue of how sex offenders are created in Florida.
The Herald goes on to say the laws are overly broad, "making no distinction between sexual predators (who are more likely to be repeat offenders) and sexual offenders (who seldom are repeat offenders). Moreover, the sex-offender designation covers a wide range of sexual misconduct, including, for example, a 19-year-old who has a consenting sexual relationship with a 16-year-old."
The editorial is a response to the jerking around of registered sex offenders living beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Florida law states that those registered as sex offenders may not live within 1,000 feet from a school or any where else children are known to congregate. The city of Miami chose to one up the state by expanding the zone to 2,500 feet, restricting residency choices to such an extent, "these men had set up umbrella tents on a miserable concrete embankment under the bridge."
"The pity is that all of this is legal, but that doesn't make it right. Local ordinances and state laws authorizing the zones have thus far been upheld in court. However, considering how these laws have played out in real life, that may change. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have asked Gov. Charlie Crist to intervene. The governor hasn't responded yet."
Hell freezes over twice. The ACLU has proved suspiciously absent while the Florida state legislature steamrolled passage of law after law after law, playing the Fear card with parents, horrified--and constantly reminded by father, Mark Lunsford--of the sad passing of Jessica Lunsford.
(Lunsford, by the way has recently filed suit against the state of Florida.)
Typically, state lawmakers--"making no distinction"-- failed to educate the public regarding the truth--that many of those registered as offenders have never touch anyone--much less a child--physically. Not all offenders are child molesters, in fact--only 3% of those registered in Florida are considered dangerous.
The Herald--recommending "the cities and state Legislature that created these laws at least should direct sex offenders to suitable housing" concludes with a mind-shattering statement.
The better approach, of course, would be for the city and state to rewrite or repeal the laws altogether. Banishing sex offenders isn't the answer because it doesn't work.
Bravo, Herald. State lawmakers--Dave Aronberg, David Simmons--just to name two--it's high time to take responsibility for the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon Florida citizens and their loved ones via your support for what amounts to Jim Crow Draconian law.
"The time has surely come, for the laws to fit the crime." --John Mayall