Miami Sex Offenders Live on Train Tracks Thanks to Draconian Restrictions

Darkness has swallowed the train tracks. It won't be long until the men arrive. At 9:50 p.m., the first pair of headlights punches through the black, and a white Ford pickup rolls into the parking lot of a large warehouse sitting among the nameless structures dominating the Miami-Hialeah border.

"Is this what the system is all about? Not helping anyone, by banning him from his family?"

Within minutes, more men approach on foot, on bicycle, and by car. With a downtrodden but urgent gait, they stride into the parking lot. They hate it here. They wish they could be anywhere else, in another country, or back in prison, perhaps even dead. But they have no choice. It's almost 10 p.m. This is Miami-Dade County. And these 57 men are sex offenders.

"I'm a businessman myself," says Andre Moss, a wiry 38-year-old erecting a cheap black tent atop a cement stairwell. In 2010, he was convicted of sexual activity with a minor; for the past three years, he has spent every night here, in torrential downpours, in frigid temperatures, with neither a bathroom nor running water. "And I need to sleep up here so I can get my rest. It's too loud everywhere else here."

Andre Moss and dozens of other sex offenders have lived beside the train tracks since June 17, 2011.
Terrence McCoy
Andre Moss and dozens of other sex offenders have lived beside the train tracks since June 17, 2011.
The offenders set up tents on the pavement or sleep on lawn chairs under a warehouse awning.
Terrence McCoy
The offenders set up tents on the pavement or sleep on lawn chairs under a warehouse awning.

In 2007, New Times documented how a Miami-Dade County law severely restricting where sex offenders could live led to dozens of them forced to sleep under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. That story led to national outrage and local promises to fix a law meant to protect children from predators — but which many said created only more danger by placing offenders in the kind of desperate situations that led to new crimes.

Seven years later, it's clear the problem is as bad as ever. For the past five months, a growing community of sex offenders has swarmed these train tracks with tents, blankets, and lawn chairs. Because their probation imposes a curfew, the men must return here every night at 10 p.m. and stay until 6 a.m. or risk jail time.

"Not even dogs live like this," says one sharp-featured man who declined to offer his name. "We sleep on the ground, and you need this" — he hefts a flashlight — "when you go to shit in the bushes so you don't step in someone else's."

Worse, Miami-Dade County Police Department emails obtained by New Times show the camp has become a worrying security concern. The number of transient sex offenders has soared from 20 the year after the law was passed to 324 last July, according to police. With more sex offenders forced by law into homelessness every day, tracking the men has become almost impossible. Many have disappeared.

"Efforts to conduct mandated address verification on these sexual predators... is now impossible," says one memo sent to the unit that deals with sexual predators. "Those under supervision have assigned curfew hours, and the probation officers can check in [on them]. Individuals [off parole] have no such restrictions. This is a huge problem for law enforcement."

The fetid conditions in this parking lot underscore the deeper problems with Miami-Dade's flawed law. In 2005, following the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Luns­ford in Homosassa, Florida, by a repeat sexual predator, Miami Beach effectively banned offenders from its mile-wide island with a new law restricting them from living within 2,500 feet of parks and schools — more than twice the distance mandated by the state. Fearing an influx of sex offenders from the Beach to the mainland, Miami-Dade passed an identical countywide law later that year.

Probation officers soon faced a nightmarish question no one could answer: Where were all the sex offenders supposed to go? Men who generally would have gone to live with family members after getting out of jail were now barred from doing so.

Probation officers began taking offenders to a giant overpass in Coral Gables — just one block from Kristi House, a treatment center for victims of sexual assault. They were also within 1,000 feet of two day-care centers and within 2,500 feet of eight schools.

New Times' revelations about that situation sparked an angry outcry, but another encampment sprouted months later, much larger than the first. This time, it was under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. For at least eight months, a new sex offender arrived every week. Some offenders were arrested for minor violations of their parole and thrown back in jail. Others vanished.

The growth of the community incited widespread condemnation of the law. Critics pointed out that the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by friends and family members and that 87 percent of sex offenders have no prior record. Studies also show that living under extreme duress — like sleeping on train tracks or under a bridge — only exacerbates criminal tendencies.

Yet the county law has never faced any serious attempts at reform. Its facilitator, superlobbyist Ron Book, whose daughter is a victim of sexual abuse, still cheers the ordinance. "Have I changed my mind on whether this law is good and important? No," he says. "It's cheap, demagogic rhetoric that people throw at this issue to make excuses for why the sexual deviant can't find places to live. Well, people aren't entitled to live wherever they want."

But critics say the law is illogical and counterproductive. "There's got to be a more humane way of handling this," says Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who concedes there's no movement to change the rule. "That we restrict where they can live and not provide any facilities for them isn't humane or logical and is a totally incorrect way of handling this."

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95 comments
pachrismith1
pachrismith1

Everyone who comments should search on line for the Broward County Board of Commissioners S_x Offender and S_x Predator Residence Task Force: "Final Report; S_xual Offender & S_xual Predator Residence Task Force" August 25, 2009.  Lauren Book, Ron Book's daughter that was abused by her Nanny, sat on that board and has no excuse to not know the evidence behind it's findings, and neither does Ron Book.  His malevolent willful ignorance and refusal to accept fact endangers Florida.

This isn't about sympathy for s_x offenders, it's about protecting children.  Just read the report from the task force, and read the roster of members - these aren't sympathizers. The California S_x Offender Management Board - a state agency - has it's report on homelessness available for online reading or download.  The Colorado S_x Offender Management Board also makes it's "Colorado Living Arrangements . . ." available on line. The 2007 Kansas S_x Offender Policy Board report recommended, and the legislature implemented a permanent moratorium on local establishment of residency restrictions.  Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling and certainly can't be accused of being a sympathizer, posted a clear statement against residency restrictions because evidence has shown they increase the likelihood of recidivism.  Her statement is available on the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center website.


shellystow
shellystow

No, Dean, they have the very lowest rate of re-offense with the exception of murderers. Very few who have had a sexual offense and are living in the community will commit another offense. Those who are returned to prison are almost always because of parole or registry violations. People are on the registry who had one offense 30 years ago. Rather than dreaming of another offense, they are planning how to keep a job and a stable home and support their children and families. I know many such individuals.


Many victims, just like victims of any traumatic and tragic event, recover and go on to live normal lives. I have personal evidence of that. Many victims, yes, need support and counseling to reach that point. But most reach it. Ethical counseling and help groups stress healing and empowerment, not remaining victims indefinitely. I know many women who laugh at the idea that they are scarred for life or serving a life sentence as a screwed up person. Some of them are some of the strongest women I know, and many of them are involved in support of others who need it, both victims and repentant offenders. Since they are often in the same family, this works toward family reunification where it is desired by all involved, and it works toward restorative justice.


Peace to you.

Dean Stelmach
Dean Stelmach

Sex offenders have the very highest rate of recidivism. They're almost a sure thing for a repeat offense and their victims usually serve a life sentence as a screwed up person. The vast majority of the offenders are dreaming of the day they can do it again and I don't care if their life is hard while they plan their next offense.

Bridget Doyle
Bridget Doyle

There are other ways the county can spend their money, maybe on people who didn't serve time for fucking kids, or the like. I don't feel that bad for them, should there be a different system? Sure. Figure that out. And as for the writer, you sound personally butthurt over this, and it was nauseating.

Renzo A. Gonzales
Renzo A. Gonzales

Thats one shit state of affairs and tbe county knows and is not doing a thing about it. Granted, not the most popular of groups to lend a helping hand to, but if they r not in jail and cant b with their families, then sleeping under a bridge or on train tracks is just gonna make them even worse human beings.

Manuel Moreno
Manuel Moreno

The miscreant that wrote this should probably join them. I don't give a crap about sex offenders. Man up and deal with it!

Mike Casey
Mike Casey

Boohoo the fucking sex offenders can't find any place to live, cry me a fucking river

Vanessa Ortiz
Vanessa Ortiz

this is awful. these people do have a right to improve their lives and make better choices, for not just their betterment but for that of overall society, and them living in a homeless camp of people straight out of prison definitely doesnt put them in the mindset or emotional state to do that. for sure, what they did could be awful, but does that mean we want a train-track stretch of sex predators who then may disappear from record entirely just to go wherever? derrrrp.

itsonlyonedubai
itsonlyonedubai

Hey my last idea,just ship em to Guantanamo bay,Cuba nobodys gonna hire em anyway,the u.s can do a food drop by air once a month,lol

itsonlyonedubai
itsonlyonedubai

They are what they are sex offenders,and if the cop is just riding around in his cruiser on his cell phone like a lot of them do why not have a couple of Dade cops house them far off on a old city owned building I said make these guys pay they panhandel then have them pay for the lights at the nite shelter,not us we work and pay enough taxes I'm with you guys on this but want these guys out of good residential areas with kids,just looking for a solution,we need those tourist to keep comming to help Miami,s economy not. These crazed sex offenders scaring away the tourist.do you guys want property taxes and food to keep going up.

itsonlyonedubai
itsonlyonedubai

Hey just an idea,get em out of the city I don't sympathise with them no way,just looking for a way to remove them from the inner city so our kids are safe waiting for their school buses.

Annette La Ley-Ley
Annette La Ley-Ley

The writer seems to really sympathize with them. I don't need public money to help them. Use public money to help homeless children. 1 million dollars to give them temporary housing for 6 months??? Ridiculous.

Annmarie Fino
Annmarie Fino

Sex offenders ARE murderers. Soul Murder is a crime, and we font punish it harsh enough. If you dont like "who" or "how" someone gets labeled as a sex offender THEN FIGHT TO CHANGE THAT. To ask the law to lighten up simply because some of them aren't "real" sexual offenders is stupid.

Rafael Alberto III
Rafael Alberto III

Marie, if a 15 year old boy sends a picture of his genitals to his 16 year old girlfriend he will be marked as a sex offender if that is brought to police.

itsonlyonedubai
itsonlyonedubai

The city has got to have an old building out by the eveglades to house these guys,make it a night shelter,but with a cost to a/c and heat if need be,200 person limit have Miami Dade assign a cop there each night 10 pm to 8 am have a lock box bolted to the wall have each guy drop a buck in ,have all-star bring a port a potty for their bathroom that has a pad lock to lock during. Day hours have some rules,like no talking its a nite shelter,must report to get in by 1030pm,u leave u can't return,everybody must exit the building at 6am and lock the place up until 10pm.bags are subjected to search,tell them its for saftey reasons.it can be done.

Marie Annoual
Marie Annoual

Well...dont sexually assault children and you wont have to go through this...

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

And yet, murderers can live among us with no problems

Cari Garcia
Cari Garcia

Train tracks > under the Julia Tuttle Causeway

joeb104
joeb104

Try being a productive citizen instead of what you are. No fn sympathy.

miss4588
miss4588

Here's a novel idea. Don't rape anybody. Don't sexually assault anybody. See how simple this is. American retards.

rockdelmar
rockdelmar

there are about 50 sex offenders that live within the 2500 feet of a park (it's called "Pocket Park" on NE 10th ave) . . . Who should be monitoring this??? 

Rudy101
Rudy101

The most ridiculous and dangerous aspect of a democracy is everyone has an opinion about THOSE people.  


The most important aspect of ANY and ALL free societies, is the idea that everyone is an individual before the law.  This basic and fundemental system of checks and balances (legislative determinations being checked by impartial judical rulings) is so fundemental to a free society that the use of the legislature to control, regulate, banish, isolate a person from the community has been deemed illegal.  


WHY?  Why can't legislatures set up comprehensive police States around people the legislature defines?  


Because then there becomes an argument (that is not rational) andt is political, that does the outcome of homelessness of a particular law outweighs a public safety benefit?


WHO are the ONLY people equipped to answer that?  


It is a court of law.  


The courts refuse to put the question into this form of does harm outweigh benefit.  


In other words, there is a sacrifice of being "an individual before the law" by applying a law with a known outcome of homelessness, that is left to politics for the reasoning behind it.    


Fundemantally, society can't have laws that cause harm.  It's not a political argument.  It is for a rational fact finder to determine.  You all won't allow that.  It is the legal cover needed not to register.


val03
val03

Oh and perhaps Mr. Andre Moss should be taken to the tarmac and put on a plane Back to Haiti?? justa thought.

RodTemple
RodTemple

Florida has proven that they are nothing but a criminal regime that deserves all the disrespect that they get. If they cared about preventing sex crimes, they would eliminate their "sex offender" harassment laws completely. But they don't. What they care about is making stupid, lazy, hateful people feel better. Oh well, too bad for Florida, I'm sure they are paying for it.


And yet after all of the stupidity of the immoral un-Americans who support the Sex Offender Registries, they are still too weak to get the rest of their Registries created. Good Americans are in a civil war with Registry supporters.

hotmail
hotmail

Two questions: are all the former sex offenders under this law male?  I understand a few female offenders have to also sleep under a bridge in Dade County.

Secondly, what happens if the encamped former sex offenders decide to band together to form a radical self-defense group like the Black Panthers and retaliate against this law by targeting police and their parole officer for revenge killings as a way of making a statment against this law?  What's the worst that could possibly happen to any sex offender who is driven to murdering law enforcement personnel and the right-wing politicians who sponsored these laws?

skyjuice221
skyjuice221

People like you who talks that doing same thing a sex offenders does. You just haven't been caught yet. I am police officer 35 years experience. You will be caught.

pachrismith1
pachrismith1

Florida Review of The S_xually Violent Predator Program, 23 September 2013: 4.6%.

USDOJ "Recidivism of S_x Offenders Released From Prisons in 1994: 5.3% of 9,691, including 3.3% of child molesters.  Most frequent quote: "S_x offenders were four times more likely to be arrested for a new s_x crime." Least observed statistic:  87% of the study group (including 262,420 non-s_x offenders) who were arrested for a s_x crime were non-s_x offenders.

California S_x Offender Management Board recidivism report available on web site: 3.55% for new s_x crime, 4.57% for non-s_x felony, 35.48% for technical violations of parole (most would not be a crime if not on parole like miss a meeting with parole officer).

Look and you'll find more states reporting similar numbers. Or you can remain willfully ignorant.

One report claimed 89%, but analysis revealed that every one of the subjects had been referred as a dangerous predator to his psychiatric treatment facility. Some 50% were already recidivists when they entered the study, and anyone who had not been arrested for any crime after 15 years and therefore did not have an active police file was dropped from the study.  One reviewer observed that it was remarkable, given the study methodology, that they did not have a 100% rate.

The USDOJ Center for S_x Offender Management report on recidivism claims 52%, but a careful reading of the referenced report reveals the authors caution that their study did not apply to all offenders because, like the 89% report, these were a very small minority that were referred for psychiatric evaluation.

Under-reporting:  The very report that everyone references said that the reason 59% of those who did not report gave was that it wasn't important enough, and that an accidental brush on the buttocks in a crowded place was counted as an unwanted sexual contact.  

The Iowa County Attorneys Association (prosecutors) suggested that reporting had decreased after residency restrictions because families did not want to be subject to those restrictions when the family remained intact - which happens far more frequently than you might think.

And making their life difficult and causing disruption in housing and employment is conclusively identified as a leading cause for recidivism.  There is no empirical support for your claims.

RodTemple
RodTemple

Dean Stelmach is a liar. What he said is so well known to be false that he is not just "wrong" or "mistaken", he is a liar.

sieandme
sieandme

"Sex offenders have the very highest rate of recidivism."


Sex offenders as a class have the lowest recidivism rates.


"victims usually serve a life sentence as a screwed up person."


Interesting statement. The data also reveals that the "Vast majority of offenders" where victims of sexual abuse.

RodTemple
RodTemple

Big government does not have to spend money on those people but it can at least stop harassing them and stop enabling and promoting everyone else harassing them. That's it. When they are on probation or parole, have people supervise them one-on-one. After that, mind your own business and stop harassing other people.

RodTemple
RodTemple

How about instead that big government stop harassing them? And stop enabling and promoting for other people to harass them as well. When people wage war against people like this they deserve it when the people strike back.

sieandme
sieandme

The Does also urge that we recognize a fundamental right “to live where you want.”


This ambitious articulation of a proposed unenumerated right calls to mind the Supreme Court’s caution that we should proceed with restraint in the area of substantive due process, because “by extending constitutional protection to an asserted right or liberty interest, we, to a great extent, place the matter outside the arena of public debate and legislative action.”


and the Does have not developed any argument that the right to “live where you want” is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, or “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,” such that “neither liberty nor justice would exist if it were sacrificed.”


The argument here is not whether or not a residency restriction is an acceptable "PUNISHMENT" or whether the sex offender lost the "RIGHT" (like losing the RIGHT to vote, own a fire arm, or to sit on a jury) to live where he wants. The question is whether such a "RIGHT", exists in the first place.  So manuel, let me ask you, Do you have the "RIGHT" to live where you want?


IMHO, both liberty and Justice where sacrificed here as the Courts allow the States to "Experiment" with our Civil liberties.





pachrismith1
pachrismith1

California S_x Offender Management Board said "common sense says we can't be safer when we don't know where these people are." As in when they are homeless.  I would tell you to go on line, find their site, read the member list and see they are not likely sympathizers, and read their report on homelessness.  But that would take common sense which, by their estimation, you are not encumbered by.

RodTemple
RodTemple

I hope you enjoy paying for big government but I doubt that you pay much in taxes. Don't complain about your big governments. Shut up and pay.

RodTemple
RodTemple

@itsonlyonedubai  They don't need to be hired. They will do what many oppressed groups do - rise above it and attack their attackers. They will be the people who are hiring and exploiting you folks. It's a war.

RodTemple
RodTemple

Yeah, your big government is kind of stupid. All they really need to do is stop harassing them.

RodTemple
RodTemple

I think Americans simply think that government is too big and should probably stop harassing people just for fun.


But if your Sex Offender Registries are so wonderful, where are the rest of them? We all know why they don't exist.

RodTemple
RodTemple

@rockdelmar Absolutely no one should be monitoring it.  It is idiotic.


Florida should get rid of their idiotic, worse-than-worthless banishment laws and public safety would instantly increase exponentially. It would also result in all of these make-believe problems going away.


If Florida does not do that, I really do hope that these people being harassed into homelessness start murdering people. That would be sweet.


val03
val03

You do crack me up Rudy..Its Un-American to NOT Injest criminal alien sex offenders ? Jesus Rudy one day when you grow up and wear your big boy pants you will realize that embracing and accomadating illegals who use our citizens as a sexual buffet table and are allowed to remain, is squeezing YOUR NUTS also. You sex offenders never can seem to take that one to a completed thought.

val03
val03

Whats funny "Rod" is your opinion that Florida gives a damn what a level three thinks about its laws..thats ok you keep hating Florida, its one less offender we can live without. You pervs crack me up..

RodTemple
RodTemple

Ha ha ha, speaking of "stupid, lazy, hateful", @valu03 is the poster child for all the stupidity.


I agree with idiot @val03 that it doesn't matter at all what I think of Florida or they or anyone else of me, Florida is suffering because of themselves regardless. They are the ones who are paying. They will continue to pay because they are certainly not getting any smarter. Too bad, so sad for them.

 
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