Sex Offenders banished to the Julia Tuttle Causeway now have some serious lawyers on their side. The American Civil Liberties Union sued Miami-Dade County today their behalf. After over two years of living in a crowded, county-mandated tent city, the compliant states this: The ordinance "unreasonably burdens" the offenders. It denies them their right to housing.
It also, "exacerbates the very danger the county intended to avert." And it increases their chances of repeat offences.
Miami-Dade county first passed the ordinance in 2005 in order to keep registered sex offenders from schools, parks, and day care centers. One of the only places that left: under the bridge. The colony has more than tripled in size to 70 since New Times first broke the story in 2007. Back then, the men lived within 500 feet of an advocacy center for abused kids.
Says Howard Simon, Florida ACLU Executive Director: "The ACLU is as concerned about protecting our communities - especially our children."
Conditions are getting worse everyday. The bridge is now wall-to- wall with tents, RVs, and shanty homes. The place drips with squalor. Men told New Times in a recent visit that they go to the bathroom in buckets, then dump the waste into the bay.
On a cement pillar, a spray painted sign reads: "We are not animals."