Lauren Book walks among grimy tents, wooden shanties, cardboard boxes, rusty cars and piles of garbage. On this day, it's quiet under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, except for the deafening drone of cars and trucks barreling over the bridge above.
``This is Homer's house,'' Book says, standing in front of a small wooden door on a wretched shack that looks more like an outhouse than a home. Homer isn't there because he is back in jail. But a handful of other sex offenders and predators who harbor here are busying themselves cleaning up trash and human excrement.
Book has visited this dark and foul-smelling encampment over and over again, about a dozen times in all. Most residents know her name, and she knows many of theirs.
What is remarkable about Book's visits to this world of outcasts is that for six years, starting when she was 11, she was a victim of sexual abuse. She later embarked on a legislative crusade against sex offenders, lobbying the state Legislature with her father, Ron Book, one of Florida's most powerful lobbyists, to enact stricter laws against convicted molesters. Full story here.
-- JULIE BROWN