Individuals convicted of sex offenses subject to faulty bans
Posted on August 05, 2009 3:00 AM EST
In Miami, Florida, State Attorney General Bill McCollum gave a recent interview on a radio station where he expressed that he had has a problem with the convicted sex offenders
who have been relegated to live in terrible conditions under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, Florida. Republican Bill McCollum, who has always advocated harsh penalties for those convicted of crimes, expressed his opinion that local ordinances that ban sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet from schools are causing more harm than good. Most Miami criminal attorneys
share in his opinion as they are intimately aware of the ongoing problem.
Currently, the law in the State of Florida prevents sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of schools. McCollum stated, "The state law is fairly reasonable, but many counties and cities have made it impossible for anybody to live ... in a normal living environment. It is very wrong." Ron Book, the chairman of the Miami-Dade homeless trust, was surprised by the comments because he does not believe the 2,500 foot ordinances were the root of the problem. Book was less sympathetic for the individuals convicted of sex crimes such sexual battery, lewd and lascivious behavior and child sexual abuse
Many local governments have imposed the 2,500 foot ban as a result of the rape and murder of nine-year old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. Those critical of the new laws say the changes have forced many of the sexual offenders underground, thus making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor them. Most of the controversy arises from the group of individuals convicted of sex offenses that are forced to live under a bridge in Miami with no toilets or running water.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has become involved in the debate and sides with McCollum on the issue. The ACLU has filed suit against Miami-Dade over its 2,500 foot rule. Howard Simon, the director of the ACLU, found fault with the new because they fail to distinguish between serious sexual offenders and predators and those accused of urinating on the side of the road or when a seventeen year-old boy and a fifteen year-old girl engage in consensual sex.
The current debate and present state of the law in Miami and other counties should make Miami criminal lawyers aware of which sex offenses carry these bans before allowing their clients to enter into plea agreements with the state attorney's office. It is imperative that criminal defense lawyers not only plea bargain on behalf of their clients, but should also make charge bargaining a priority.
Bill McCollum: Sex-offender Bans are Faulty, Miami Herald, August 4, 2009