Monday, July 13, 2009

Again With The Bridges?

The number of sex offenders, some convicted of pretty minor offenses, living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in the Miami area has gone from about half a dozen to more than ten times that number. It's gotten to the point where one can have "Julia Tuttle Bridge" on a driver's license. The ACLU has now gotten involved, with a lawsuit designed to roll back some of the idiotically draconian residency restrictions that have created this situation.

In the meantime, everyone's passing the buck. Miami-Dade County blames the State of Florida, presumably for letting the men live anywhere, as they stand by their restrictions. The State, on the other hand, says state and local governments should do what's best for their communities, presumably as a way of washing their hands of the situation without appearing to be soft on sex offenders. Law enforcement officials, perhaps surprisingly, are trying to get someone to do something, realizing that they have a powder keg on their hands.

It’s not a good situation. It’s not a good situation for probation officers. It’s not a good situation for the offenders under the bridge, but it’s also not a good situation for public safety in Miami-Dade.
Gretl Plessinger, Florida State Department of Corrections
But the public, apparently convinced that the worst that can happen is a group of bad people will simply die, move away or spend the rest of their days living lives of quiet desperation, thinks that it's just wonderful.
“These laws are always universally popular,” [Corey Rayburn Yung, an expert in sex-offender law at John Marshall Law School in Chicago] said. “The public loves it.”
And that means it is a good situation for politicians (never slow to score points with their constituencies at someone else's expense) - who we all know will promptly (and likely successfully) point fingers at someone else as soon as this situation detonates in everyone's faces. Which it will. It always does.

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