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?
- Forcing Released Offenders to Live Under a Causeway: The Outrage Continues (12/07, numbers have grown to 30)
- Bridge to Nowhere (03/07, Miami promises corrective action)
- How Can We Tolerate This? (03/07, initial discovery that the government is requiring people to be homeless and to sleep under a bridge)