April 16, 2007

Sex offenders must live as trolls

A judge has ordered five convicted sex offenders to live under a bridge near Miami because no other housing can be found for them. Under new residency restrictions, they are banned from living near schools, parks, and other places where children congregate, and even homeless shelters have refused them entry.

The judge ordered the men to stay under the bridge from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Their probation officers come by nightly to check that they are there.

Their address is listed on the Florida sexual predator Web site as “Julia Tuttle Causeway.”

One of the five, Kevin Morales, asked a judge on April 12 if he could go back to jail instead of living under the bridge. The judge said no.

Laws restricting where sex offenders can live have swept the nation since the first ones were enacted in Iowa five years ago. Iowa has seen mounting criticism of the laws, largely due to their unintended side effects. Rather than protecting children, the laws may actually endanger them more by making it harder to track and rehabilitate offenders. The laws also do nothing to protect the large proportion of sexually abused children whose assailants are family members or acquaintances, many with no prior convictions for sex offenses.