ACLU Stands Up For Banished Sex Offenders

After a conflict with Miami Police, the sex offenders who have been sent by the state to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway are getting some help from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Yesterday the Florida branch of the ACLU delivered a letter to Miami Chief of Police John Timoney asking the department to stop threatening the men with arrests. The number of residents living in the tent city under the causeway doubled to 40 in the past two years, prompting the offenders to spread into the areas on the outskirts of the bridge. In response, city cops warned them this passed week that they would be arrested for trespassing.

But the ACLU says Miami's finest are forgetting something: You can't arrest a homeless individual for trespassing when the city isn't able to provide them housing. (See Pottenger vs. the city of Miami) Since homeless shelters both can't and won't take the men, the ACLU points out, they are covered under the law.

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Says Carlene Sawyer, chair of the Miami ACLU:"Where will these people go if they get arrested? It's a terrible situation and this is cruel and unusual punishment."

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