Minimal Human Decency Abridged

Fred Grim in the Miami Herald, Florida sex offender policy puts inhumane nightmare under bridge:

No, you think. That can't be. Not after two years. Makes no sense.

But they're still there, a bedraggled colony of outcasts, consigned to the bowels of the Julia Tuttle Causeway — as a matter of public policy.

No, you think. That's impossible. Last winter, state officials promised they'd solve the legal conundrum and international embarrassment that forced 19 sex offenders to live like rats under the concrete support beams of a causeway bridge. The camp's still there. Only the Tuttle bridge population has since grown to 48 men, crammed together in a nether existence of the Kafka kind.

Officially, of course, the state of Florida would never compel ex-offenders to live in unsanitary conditions in the dank underbelly of a freeway bridge, in tents, shacks, cars and two rusting campers. Yet parole officers have made it clear to ex-sex offenders who've served their prison sentences that they have no other options.

City and county laws have created so many overlapping forbidden zones — 2,000 or 2,500 feet from schools, day cares, parks, playgrounds, school bus stops — that the middle of Biscayne Bay has become an ex-offender's only allowable address.

“They check us here every evening. We've got to be here or we go back to prison,” said M.C., 48, who was banished to the bridge after his release from prison two years ago.

How can this be allowed to continue?

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25 thoughts on “Minimal Human Decency Abridged

  1. This is terrible. I know some communities in Iowa did the same thing when I lived there.

    This is a ridiculous situation throughout the country and needs to stop.

  2. Holy shit. Any word on the legal challenges to this? 8th amendment challenges to Megan’s law implementations have, IIRC, fared badly on the whole due to some silly sophistry about it not being “punishment” (apparently legal formalism still hasn’t died its long overdue death), but there are some things that seem so unconstitutional that I’m willing to hang my legal hat on the 9th amendment, penumbras and emanations, substantive due process, the framers’ concern that enumerating rights would falsely imply the elimination of others, or a simple “DUH! NO CIVILIZED NATION DOES THIS!”

  3. Also, oh my fucking god. From one of the stories you linked:

    Until last week, Big Man was serving a four-year sentence for cocaine possession. A few days ago, he was looking forward to leaving prison and reuniting with his wife, until he got the news: Instead of going home, he’d be living under a bridge, a parole commission officer told him. That’s because 23 years ago, when he was 19 years old, Big Man was charged with sexual assault on a minor. (He claims the victim was his girlfriend and that it was consensual.)

    Charged!!?? Can this story be right? Are parole officers applying Megan’s law to people who were merely CHARGED with sex crimes?!!?

  4. Sex Offenders should get the death penalty. I guarantee you this behavior would stop real fast. The punishments don’t suit the crimes, and living under a bridge is not cruel and unusual punishment. There is no difference between living under a bridge and living in a prison cell. If living under a bridge is cruel and unusual, then so is going to jail then. By your standards then Paul, we might as well abolish jail.

    The jail cells are too overcrowded and there needs to be change. Republicans want longer prison sentences as a deterrent, which does not work, it only increases costs to the states to pay for them. Try harsher sentences, such as being forced to do some type of labor work that is not cruel and unusual, but is such a pain in the a** that people would not want to go to or return to jail to have to do it.

  5. Go Democrats: at least if the sex offenders got life sentences (the death penalty idea is patently absurd) it would be honest and out in the open and something that would be reasonably subject to constitutional challenge without dealing with silly sophistries about what “punishment” is.

    Also, let’s not forget that many, many of the people who are registered sex offenders are people who got charged with things like public sex, got solicited by cops for gay sex in a bathroom, etc. It’s not all child molesters.

  6. Paul,

    Sex offenders are out of control. The internet has made available all types of sick and demented images that feed certain desires that would otherwise lay dormant in a person who is prone to becoming a sex offender.

    In my postings I am referring to child molesters, not gay sex in a bathroom or the like.

    Without proper deterrents, there will be no major improvement in stopping this behavior. The punishment available does not suit the crime. Death penalty is the only viable solution. The rest would be uncivilized. The government has a duty to protect children, and they are failing to do so.

  7. Go Democrats,
    I like your caricature of a law-and-order-type Republican, it’s a bit over the top as a parody, but it’s a hoot.

  8. Go Democrats is correct. The fact of the matter is that sex offenders, particularly pedophiles, commit horrific acts that warrant extreme measures. As this blog is hosted by a law professor, it is not surprising that a sanitary, aloof view of the problem is expressed here.

    It’s very simple. Rent “Deliverance”, and imagine yourself being sodomized. Imagine the effect this has on a child, a woman, or a man. Now imagine the type of “human being” capable of inflicting this upon another. It is far easier to murder someone, and most of us believe we could bring ourselves to kill another person in self defense or defense of others. But to rape another human being? A child?

    Clearly “persons” capable of such acts must either be imprisoned for life or executed. Or, if they live under a bridge in Miami, so be it.

  9. Well, it is sock puppet day here at discourse dot net, I see.

    Go Democrats, thanks for proving yet again that you are a fake Dem. Your idea of justice is warped in a 1980s GOP kind of way.

    First of all, you blatantly contradict yourself. First you state that 20-30 year sentences plus the way child molesters are treated in prison are not sufficient to deter this behavior. Then you say that you are positive that the death penalty will be sufficient! That is idiocy defined. Lots of people would prefer death if they had to choose between the two. The death penalty will not deter this type of behavior, unfortunately.

    Secondly, you seem to have no concern for due process or legal protections. Some of these people most certainly are not the type of predators you would have them be. They may have been falsely accused, they may have been technically guilty but nowhere near guilty of the type of behavior you would use to tar them. In some states a 19 year old messing around with a 17 year old could lead to child molestation or sexual predation charges, and in other cases terrible representation will lead to a similar result. Nothing to do with 3 year olds at all.

    Further, if it is true that some are simply accused and not convicted, then anyone with any sense of justice would oppose this treatment of them.

    A reasonable person could, theoretically, advocate for the death penalty in extreme cases of child sexual abuse, but such a reasonable person would be very concerned about restricting this extreme punishment to only the most outrageous cases, and would very much want to have additional legal processes in place to avoid miscarriages of justice.

    But there is no reasonable advocate for this policy here.

    reality, no one is advocating for this type of behavior. You are wrestling with straw men. Is it sick? Sure. Does that mean that we as a society can do whatever we want, according to legal processes or ad hoc processes, to them? No, it does not. Absolutely not.

    The sad thing is, and I do not know this for a fact, but I believe that the vast majority (or at least the majority) of child sexual predators are victims of child sexual abuse themselves. It is a sad and vicious cycle.

  10. Well, it is sock puppet day here at discourse dot net, I see.

    Go Democrats, thanks for proving yet again that you are a fake Dem. Your idea of justice is warped in a 1980s GOP kind of way.

    First of all, you blatantly contradict yourself. First you state that 20-30 year sentences plus the way child molesters are treated in prison are not sufficient to deter this behavior. Then you say that you are positive that the death penalty will be sufficient! That is idiocy defined. Lots of people would prefer death if they had to choose between the two. The death penalty will not deter this type of behavior, unfortunately.

    Secondly, you seem to have no concern for due process or legal protections. Some of these people most certainly are not the type of predators you would have them be. They may have been falsely accused, they may have been technically guilty but nowhere near guilty of the type of behavior you would use to tar them. In some states a 19 year old messing around with a 17 year old could lead to child molestation or sexual predation charges, and in other cases terrible representation will lead to a similar result. Nothing to do with 3 year olds at all.

    Further, if it is true that some are simply accused and not convicted, then anyone with any sense of justice would oppose this treatment of them.

    A reasonable person could, theoretically, advocate for the death penalty in extreme cases of child sexual abuse, but such a reasonable person would be very concerned about restricting this extreme punishment to only the most outrageous cases, and would very much want to have additional legal processes in place to avoid miscarriages of justice.

    But there is no reasonable advocate for this policy here.

    reality, no one is advocating for this type of behavior. You are wrestling with straw men. Is it sick? Sure. Does that mean that we as a society can do whatever we want, according to legal processes or ad hoc processes, to them? No, it does not. Absolutely not.

    The sad thing is, and I do not know this for a fact, but I believe that the vast majority (or at least the majority) of child sexual predators are victims of child sexual abuse themselves. It is a sad and vicious cycle.

  11. Well, it is sock puppet day here at discourse dot net, I see.

    Go Democrats, thanks for proving yet again that you are a fake Dem. Your idea of justice is warped in a 1980s GOP kind of way.

    First of all, you blatantly contradict yourself. First you state that 20-30 year sentences plus the way child molesters are treated in prison are not sufficient to deter this behavior. Then you say that you are positive that the death penalty will be sufficient! That is idiocy defined. Lots of people would prefer death if they had to choose between the two. The death penalty will not deter this type of behavior, unfortunately.

    Secondly, you seem to have no concern for due process or legal protections. Some of these people most certainly are not the type of predators you would have them be. They may have been falsely accused, they may have been technically guilty but nowhere near guilty of the type of behavior you would use to tar them. In some states a 19 year old messing around with a 17 year old could lead to child molestation or sexual predation charges, and in other cases terrible representation will lead to a similar result. Nothing to do with 3 year olds at all.

    Further, if it is true that some are simply accused and not convicted, then anyone with any sense of justice would oppose this treatment of them.

    A reasonable person could, theoretically, advocate for the death penalty in extreme cases of child sexual abuse, but such a reasonable person would be very concerned about restricting this extreme punishment to only the most outrageous cases, and would very much want to have additional legal processes in place to avoid miscarriages of justice.

    But there is no reasonable advocate for this policy here.

    reality, no one is advocating for this type of behavior. You are wrestling with straw men. Is it sick? Sure. Does that mean that we as a society can do whatever we want, according to legal processes or ad hoc processes, to them? No, it does not. Absolutely not.

    The sad thing is, and I do not know this for a fact, but I believe that the vast majority (or at least the majority) of child sexual predators are victims of child sexual abuse themselves. It is a sad and vicious cycle.

  12. LACJ-

    Let me try to focus the discussion.

    The reason they are under the bridge is because they are unsafe to be within a certain distance of schools. Do you have children? So you would not mind if a sex offender lived next door?

    “Does that mean that we as a society can do whatever we want, according to legal processes or ad hoc processes, to them? “

    Yes, so long as it is constitutional.

    I wonder if you or michael (who is in South Florida) has ever stopped by the bridge to deliver food, blankets, good cheer? No? Why not? Well there are two possibilities. One is that the problem is only theoretical, that deep down you know that is where those people belong. The second is that you think “somebody” in “government” should deal with it. Who? Obama? And what exactly are they supposed to do?

    I would agree that probably most sexual offenders were sexually abused as children. We can address that with children today who have been sexually abused, but these adults are lost.

    An island like Australia might work…know any for sale?

  13. You are not focusing anything, but instead obfuscating the real issues here. I take it you are quite a fan of Kafka.

    There is so much wrong with your comment, I do not know where to start. Wrong factually and logically; I will not even begin to get into moral issues with one such as you.

    Some of these men have a high likelihood of recidivism, not all, or even possibly most. Please read my comments above (I posted them three times, you should be able to find them) where I note that the label they have been stuck with is not limited to child sexual predation, nor are there special legal processes in place to ensure that no one is unjustly labeled as such.

    You speak of what is constitutional as if its simply a matter of checking a list somewhere. Forcing people who have already served their time to live outside without clean water, a toilet or electricity is almost certainly unconstitutional. However it takes time (absent a conscientious government official who happens to be in just the right position and with sufficient power to remedy this situation) for the unconstitutional nature of this punishment to be determined. That is where we are now.

    I know you really just want to hate on these people that you deem “evil”. That is how you get your jollies. You cannot and will not engage any of the points made by myself and others who see things a little differently. You do not care enough about the problem to do that. However your insistence that they are all sexual molesters of young children is not made true simply by your belief.

    If you read the articles linked to, you would know that this situation does not prevent any of the men from molesting, and indeed makes it harder for the authorities to monitor the men. But that will not stop your arguments, I would warrant.

    Finally, I am sure that you are in favor of programs to help victims of child sexual abuse to come to terms with what happened to them, and break the cycle of molestation. As otherwise all your boasting about protecting young children is moot. Be careful, that means more government spending on social programs.

    I will not continue this ‘discussion’, feel free to rage on without me.

  14. Where is your proposed solution? Your smug authorship style is intended to impart upon me that you know it all, I am just an atavist fool. Yet for all your ranting no proposed solution.

    I know, I know, Obama will sprinkle magic fairy dust on all the child molesters and we’ll be ok.

    I should become a liberal, I’d be so much more optimistic.

  15. Patrick (G):

    I feed trolls here all the time, and have yet to regret. No one has complained to date. Are you asking me to not feed them? You are free to do so, if you wish. However, it is my hobby, you know…

    I said I would not continue the conversation because I went to the previous threads on this topic, and found that those threads only got uglier as time went on. Check them out and you will see what I am talking about.

    Like every troll in the history of the intertubes, ‘reality’ never, ever engages anyone’s points or suggestions, and so it seemed pointless to continue. I made my points and determined that no progress would be made.

    But I lied, apparently. Because here I am again. I am so very weak…

    ‘reality’, you damn well bet that I am writing in a smug style, and intentionally so, which is perfectly appropriate given your ignorant, hateful postings, your refusal to actually acknowledge or engage the real facts of the case, and your dismissal of human beings (again, not necessarily guilty of the horrific crimes you would ascribe to them, but human beings regardless).

    You always have an angle, though, don’t you. First it was how a law professor provides a whitewashed version of the situation. Then it was about how those who would defend these people have not gone to provide them with support. Then it was all about how you are defending the childrens. Now your thing is, wow, LACJ doesn’t have any solutions.

    So, here we are. How shall you reply to Michael’s suggestion? I would suggest, in an arrogant, aloof and lofty way, that allowing these people to re-build their connections to family might be the best way to prevent further crimes…

  16. Heh, thanks Patrick. In fact, I never feed trolls anywhere but here. I swear its true. Just something about this site…

  17. Well, the trolls around here generally can write without numerous misspellings or other basic grammatical errors. So from that standpoint, I would say you have some mighty fine trolls here, Michael. For trolls.

    I think the reason I engage them is that, when I first began to stop by here regularly, there was often no conversation in the comments other than a few trolls. And some of the things they were saying were pretty pitiful. This was back when I felt an enormous amount of frustration at the things the Bush Admin was doing, back before it was completely clear that they were implementing a complete torture regime, before the multiple crimes if the administration were completely understood.

    So it may have been somewhat cathartic. But then it turned into a habit, and I guess I am addicted. Oh cruel fate! Is this my lot in life??

  18. Awesome post, LACJ. When I hear some ignorant (yes, IGNORANT) person say ALL sex offenders should be executed, or some other radical, mean-spirited “solution”, I just want so badly to educate the public. A few “sex offenders” are like those that are capitalized upon for media sensation. A vast, untold number of the rest are there because a sex crime is the easiest crime to be convicted of. It doesn’t require any actual incriminating evidence, and often innocent people are convicted, their lives ruined “just to be on the safe side”. This is a sickening, sickening perversion of justice. It has been allowed because, just as with the witch hunts of Salem, a hysteria has set in and scapegoats are essential. In these cases it’s often nothing more than an accusation, and from there lives are ruined. The life of the accused as well as all those close to him, and sometimes that includes children as well. Furthermore, the “solutions” these lawmakers have come up with are “one size fits all”. You wouldn’t deal with a shoplifter the way you’d deal with a dangerous armed robber, that would be asinine. But people blindly accept the insanity that the courts are inflicting on people who are no danger at all to the public. And Megan’s law is perhaps the silliest of all. People who check for registered sex offenders in their area and see none seem to think that they are safe from being crime victims. The guy next door might be the worst of the worst and clever enough that he’s never been caught. Anyway, I could go on and on regarding this subject. Do you think if enough lives are destroyed by ill-conceived and ineffective laws, that we’ll finally live in a crime-free utopian world? Unless common sense and sanity someday prevail, YOU or YOU or even YOU might be the next victim of this runaway train with people suggesting that you need to be executed.

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