Two miles of sugar cane separate 100 men living in a pseudo-sex-offender colony from nearby Pahokee, itself a flyspeck on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, Florida. This is among one of few places to live comfortably as a sex offender in Florida. For many of these men, pushed to the fringe by residency restrictions, Miracle Village was the last net before homelessness. A Christian ministry oversees about a dozen of the 65 dwellings on 24 acres. “But it’s totally changed, now we’re a part of the community.” Some of offenders had sex with their underage girlfriends. Some viewed child pornography. One resident, a leader in the ministry, was a teacher at a Palm Beach County school who confessed to molesting students.
Some city and county ordinances in Florida make it extremely difficult–if not impossible–for sexual offenders to live lawfully in their communities. Sex offenders in cities all throughout Florida have resorted to living under bridges, sleeping on benches, and sleeping in just about anywhere they will not be arrested for merely being present in order to comply with some of Florida sex offender registration laws.
Sex offenders, as a part of sex offender probation are often are not allowed to reside near schools or parks, and many are further restricted by the terms of their probation, including where they live and how close their residence is to places where potential victims might be.
Municipalities and counties all throughout Florida and the Southeast are in a race to push sex offenders into the neighboring communities. Many times, this push becomes a competition, leaving both law abiding citizens and sex offenders, many times one-time sex offenders, losing.
As of September, 2008 there were 7000 schools, 14000 registered daycares, 3600 parks and approximately 250,000 bus stops in Florida. The numbers of additional locations that are prohibited by the local ordinance restrictions are not delineated in any collective source to date but have included public libraries, churches, theatres and pools, etc. It is of further complication to all who are charged with enforcing these restrictions, that neither Florida Statute nor many of the local ordinances provide definitions for these places, causing the determination of what is an appropriate and legal residence for these offenders, increasingly confusing and difficult.
Residency restrictions become more complicated when the one has any medical or special needs conditions that require any level of care. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are becoming wary of accepting released offenders because they want to avoid having sexual offenders registered at their addresses. This problem will worsen as prison sentences increase, resulting in older released offenders who are more likely to have deteriorating health conditions
One in a situation such as this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville sex crimes defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights, defenses, and options are known and protected. One cannot fight this battle alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can be sure that this mistake will be whited out of one’s life and become a thing of the past.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Sex offender village grows out of residency restrictions, Ben Wolford, Sun Sentinel