After my most recent column on the outcasts consigned to the Julia Tuttle Causeway, Richard Rosichan, a board member of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU writes:
“We have been fighting these ridiculous residency restrictions, and the "bridge issue," tooth and nail. While I can't speak for the local or state boards, I can assure you that the fight will go on. We are not about to back down.
“Residency restrictions affect few if any offenders. Most sex related offenses involve on-line solicitation, family members and friends, baby sitters, consensual relationships of people usually fairly close in age (including the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" cases), young teenagers who look and act much older, and work or school related relationships. The "Megan's Law" type of thing involving someone who assaults a neighbor and in which proximity is a factor are very unusual. As for on-line solicitations, these people almost always prefer to select their targets in relatively distant locations to avoid detection by people who know them.
“A sex offender type crime can involve anything from a vicious murder to an 18 year old getting it on with his 16 year old girlfriend.
“I'm not familiar with any specific cases in this area, but here are two that I do know about that demonstrate the absurdity of these laws. One was the case of Mel Reynolds, a one time congressman (D-IL) who had sex with his 17 year old female page. He was arrested, convicted and served a year in prison. Ten years later, he received a letter ordering him to move out of his apartment. I would say the chance of "recidivism" in his case was a clear zero.
“Think that's absurd? I visit one of my daughters in Atlanta a lot. The Georgia laws make ours look positively lax. There was national publicity about the prison sentence of a black teenage boy there who had consensual oral sex with a teenage girl. Think that's bad? Recently, a 29 year old woman was ordered to leave her house within two weeks because it was within 1000 feet, yards, or whatever, of a bus stop. . I don't recall her name, but I do recall the name of the federal judge who turned down her appeal - Clarence Cooper. Her crime? Twelve years earlier - at age 17 - she had been arrested for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old boy. Yep, she was still a minor herself. And she never saw it coming until she got a letter from the county sheriff - 12 years later.
Now, about the relationship of this to the homeless issue. The real problem here is a well known and very rich lobbyist - Ron Book, head of the Homeless Trust. He has been a fanatic on this issue ever since his child was allegedly molested - touched inappropriately - by a female babysitter. Because of the tie-in between these residency restrictions and the problem of homelessness, he has no more business being head of the Homeless Trust than he would have being on a jury trying a sex offender case. As the Herald reported, he is doing everything he possibly can to obstruct resolution of the ‘bridge case.’ ”