Homeless sex offenders creating problems

July 2, 2009 at 10:41 AM

MIAMI, July 2 (UPI) -- About 80 men say they call Miami's Julia Tuttle Causeway home because a Miami-Dade law restricts where people convicted of sex crimes with minors can live.

The men told The Palm Peach (Fla.) Post the ordinance has made it nearly impossible for them to find legal living quarters because it prohibits them from living within 2,500 feet of schools, playgrounds, or, in

some instances, school bus stops.

Before Miami-Dade adopted the ordinance in 2005, state law applied, which required offenders live at least 1,000 feet away from such sites.

"Terrorists, members of al-Qaida, live better at Guantanamo (Bay, Cuba, military prison) than we do," said Armando Martinez, 49, convicted for attempted sexual battery against a child.

About 100 Florida cities expanded their buffer zones and state officials fear the "homeless sex offender" problem will spread, the Post reported Thursday.

Acknowledging that the men won't generate public sympathy, Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said people must understand that living under an overpass creates "a more dangerous situation."

"Because of the conditions, some of these individuals are absconding, evading supervision," Simon said. "These ordinances interfere with the Department of Corrections ability to keep track of them. This is a crisis situation."

Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson Gretl Plessinger, said she agreed with Simon's assessment.

"Our concern is for public safety," Plessinger told the Post. "If they are homeless there is more of a chance they will abscond."

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