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National

FL: ACLU Challenges Miami-Dade Housing Restriction Forcing Former Sex Offenders to Live by Railroad Tracks

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed suit against Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Corrections, seeking a permanent injunction against a housing ordinance that is extraordinarily difficult for former sex offenders to follow without becoming homeless. The law prohibits former offenders from living 2,500 feet (almost half a mile) from any building the county labels a “school,” a category the county has enforced arbitrarily since the ordinance went into effect in 2010. This restriction has left about fifty former offenders with nowhere to live other than an outdoor area along railroad tracks on the outskirts of Miami-Dade county. Each night, they sleep in chairs, in tents, and under tarps, without running water or shelter from the weather.

“As public policy, the Miami-Dade ordinance is a disaster. It has created a homeless population living outdoors in squalor, while doing nothing to serve public safety,” said Brandon Buskey, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “Disease, exposure to the elements, no drinkable water—these conditions make it extremely difficult to find and maintain stable employment and psychological treatment, which are the only two factors proven to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. We know from decades of research that housing restrictions like Miami-Dade’s have no impact on reoffending and, are more likely to increase it.”

Finding affordable housing for former offenders is so futile under the Miami-Dade ordinance that probation officers routinely direct supervisees to the railroad tracks, recording the tracks as the person’s “address.”

“Sending someone just out of jail into homelessness makes no sense, not for the person and not for the public. The Miami-Dade ordinance is not just unworkable, it’s unconstitutional,” said Nancy Abudu, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida.

For years, county officials have shuffled former offenders around Miami-Dade. Officials broke up the infamous shantytown under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge in 2010, only to create another, lesser known encampment in the Miami neighborhood of Shorecrest. Since officials disbanded that tent city, the area by Miami’s railroad tracks has become the only possible location for scores of individuals.

The ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter has assisted in this case.

***

Related Media:
ACLU sues over rule on where sex offenders can live in Miami-Dade (Miami Herald)
ACLU Challenges Miami Law On Behalf Of Homeless Sex Offenders (NPR)
Law Limiting Sex Offender Housing Could Hurt Kids, Too, ACLU Says (Huff Post)

***

For the complaint and other information about this case:
https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/doe-et-al-v-miami-dade-county-et-al

For information about the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project:
https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform

For information about the ACLU of Florida:
https://aclufl.org/

For information about the ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter:
https://miami.aclufl.org/

This press release is available here:
https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/aclu-challenges-miami-dade-housing-restriction-forcing-former-sex-offenders-live

Join the discussion

  1. Nicholas Maietta

    What the hell took them so damn long? I remember Ron Book causing a big stink in Miami Dade county a few years ago now.. anyone remember the Julia Tuttle Causeway?

  2. cool rso

    Where FLA ACLU been in the last 10 years?

    this is the breaking point FINALLY !!

  3. Brubaker

    Yes..thank you..ACLU Florida …..how can public policy be funded to a manner of inhumane treatment ..???…..how thexxxx does that work in a free world..?…..Unbelievable ..Unbelievable.

  4. Eric Knight

    Would there be any value to CA RSOL legal team (Janice, Chance) at submitting an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff?

  5. MS

    I agree, what took so long? There is no excuse in our Nation for anyone to be forced to live in such deplorable conditions.

  6. Alienated

    I am so glad, the registered citizens of Florida are total outcasts. I hope the ACLU and Civil liberties union kick the DOC ass.

  7. A

    It is about time. Florida and particularly “Miami” has been dead with any legal support for registered citizens. I know a lot of those guys that live by the train tracks and it is a lot worse than what they are saying. It is not 50 like they state. It is about 80 to 90 living by those train tracks. I know one person on probation who has a good paying job and can easily afford housing but can’t buy a house because of that stupid ordinance which does nothing but further embarrasses an international city. I only wish we can do the same as what Janice has been doing with California. Which is unbelievably awesome by the way. If so, Miami Dade County would definitely be the best place to start and set the example for the rest of Florida with a win. Crossing my fingers.

  8. Harry

    A lie (aka: darkness) is half way around the world when truth (aka: light) gets its shoes on, however, if the lie keeps running it will catch up with truth. Now, how does this relate to Miami Dade County and the RSO hysteria? The truth always exposes a lie. Good people will see the lie and will come forward and help. In the meantime we keep shining the light every way we can.

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