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New Sex Offender Law May Help with Housing Options

By Kamika Dunlap on February 03, 2010 12:05 PM

Miami-Dade County is leading the push for softer residency restriction laws for convicted sex offenders in order that they may find a place to live.

A new sex offender law may help with housing options.

Time Magazine reports that a new sex offender law will help clean up the eyesore of tents and shacks under a Miami bridge that has become living quarters for convicted sex offenders forced into homelessness.

In addition, the new county ordinance will supersede some of the stricter residency laws passed by local municipalities, which ban registered sex offenders from living near schools, parks, bus-stops and day care centers. Officials say, the law, which takes effect in the upcoming days is aimed at creating one standard to protect children while giving sex offenders housing options.

The new ordinance keeps a 2,500-foot restriction, but applies it only to schools. It also sets a 300-foot restriction or child-safety zones, which prohibit sex offenders from loitering where children congregate.

Officials say the goal of the new provision in the ordinance is to restrict sex offenders from being near children, but doesn't leave them homeless.

As previously discussed, Miami, like Georgia and California, is among the many places where registered sex offenders struggle to finding housing. California's Proposition 83, also known as "Jessica's Law," has created a surge in registered sex offenders declaring themselves transients, making it more difficult to track their whereabouts.

Currently, about 70 registered sex offenders are living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, a bridge connecting Miami to Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade county officials hope the new law will encourage other states and even U.S. Congress to reexamine and create more uniform residency restriction laws. Officials say laws need to be workable and realistic.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida say the new ordinance is a step in the right direction but doesn't go far enough. Dave Aronberg, a Democrat running for Florida attorney general is sponsoring a new bill that would establish uniform statewide residency rules.

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