You may recall a post last week — How Can We Tolerate This? — pointing out a New Times exposé that Miami was requiring homeless sex offenders, whose housing options are severely constrained by local ordinances, to sleep under a bridge on pain of arrest if they were not found there when regularly monitored by their probation officer.
I thought that was pretty disgusting. And that the article was in the grand tradition of muckraking journalism.
One week later, we can now see the effects of this public shaming. Miami officialdom has swung into action:
Following revelations by New Times that a parking lot under the State Road 836 bridge was being used by probation officers as a dumping ground for homeless sex offenders — and that the lot was located within 2500 feet of eight schools, in violation of a county ordinance — two men were moved from under the bridge and placed … under another bridge. Their new home is under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Surrounded by water, palm trees, and endless traffic, they now, presumably, reside a legal distance from schools.
Florida Department of Corrections officers who ordered the men to live in the parking lot won't face punitive actions, DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said in an e-mail. “We are one piece of the puzzle,” Plessinger wrote. “The issue of how Miami-Dade, Florida, and this country deal with sex offenders is one that must be addressed not only by the DOC, but by lawmakers, the court system, and the community as a whole.”
We are, some say, judged by how we treat the least and worst among us. At this point, we can only hope that view is mistaken.