[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Miami's Sex Offender Problem

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Miami's Sex Offender Problem

Fred Grimm opines on Miami-Dade County's ordinance which essentially forces sex offenders to have no place to live but under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge. This isn't a recent development, and Grimm himself wrote a previous column on this a couple of weeks ago. I've hesitated to post about it, not because it isn't noteworthy, but because quite frankly I don't have a good solution to offer. Jorge, on the other hand, stuck his neck out a while back.

Grimm, with support from analyses of recidivism rates of sex offenders, points out that isolating these people doesn't make us any safer and in fact could make us less safe. OK, but how do you explain this to a victim? To the family of the victim? That's the question few seem to want to address. We spend a lot of time concerned about the rights of criminals and our city's image - justly so - but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that laws and ordinances like these are intended solely for the protection and safety of the innocent.

I don't know the extent of the crimes committed by the 48 men living under the Julia Tuttle. But one solution that could make some sense is to apply different treatment methods depending on the severity of the crime. This study points out that recidivism rates vary depending on the type of sex offender. Pedophiles and rapists, as well as repeat offenders, have higher recidivism rates. Not surprising in the least. Remember: John Couey fit every single one of the criteria listed above.

Speaking of which, it's not totally lost on me that Florida has Jessica's Law (thank goodness) which was enacted to deal with the most heinous and highest risk people. It's also not lost on me that it's Jessica's Law which in part inspired the Miami-Dade ordinance we're currently discussing the merits of.

I agree that just throwing people under a bridge isn't going to solve anything. All I'm trying to say is that whatever solution we come up with (and there's no doubt that we NEED a solution),
let's make sure we don't lose sight of the fact that some of the folks that commit these crimes are likely beyond help and could very well hurt someone else if given the chance to. Let's not water it down so much that we put our community even more at risk.


Blogger Jorge Costales CPA said...

Robert - agreed

I have no problem with harsher sentences or even castration-type options, especially given the recidivism you point out. It would reflect how society feels about these type of crimes.

What I think we have now is a supposed more 'humane' sentencing, which is followed by a probation period which is literally impossible to comply with.

I don't think we need to pity sex offenders to change the current system, we need to think about what happens to our safety when the sex offenders are released and have no prospects on the outside.

The compassion I wrote of should apply to when a person has completed their sentence and been released. At that point, I do think it's wrong to leave them no options but to live under a bridge.

12:38 PM, March 12, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...


Very succinctly put. Thanks.

3:33 PM, March 12, 2009  
Blogger Jonathan said...

As I commented on Jorge's blog, part of the problem lies in the vagueness of the term "sex offender." Some of them are rapists but many of them are guilty of much less severe crimes, and some shouldn't be punished at all (the teenaged lovers, men falsely accused of child molestation by their ex-wives in divorces, etc.).

Keep them in jail if they're dangerous. But not all of them are dangerous and many of them deserve better treatment. Politicians and media deserve a lot of blame for self-servingly stoking hysteria on this issue. They should be trying to draw distinctions between people who are dangerous and those who aren't, instead of lumping everyone into a group. Historically it's been dangerous for everyone when the majority piled on in seeking harsh treatment for members of some despised group, particularly when the issue at hand involved sexual abuse or abuse of children.

4:19 AM, March 14, 2009  

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