miamiherald.com : State needs to fix the sex offender mess.
The task force charged by the Broward County Commission with finding a way out of the conundrum created by sex offender residency restrictions has listened to experts, crunched numbers and discussed a dismaying array of unintended consequences.
By its second meeting on Tuesday, none of the task force members were defending the notion that draconian restrictions actually protected children from sex offenders.
They discussed better solutions than laws that forced registered sex offenders into homelessness; that left parole officers with no alternative but to send them to live under a highway bridge; that encouraged sex offenders to cluster in neighborhoods with less restrictive ordinances.
They talked about the documented failure of these laws in other states. They talked about laws, instead, that would keep sex offenders from loitering around places where children congregate. They talked about re-zoning industrial areas to allow sex offender housing.
They talked about restrictions that fail to distinguish between less dangerous offenders and sexual predators.
They pushed beyond the emotional stuff and dug for what made sense.
It was the kind of thoughtful examination needed to sort out a complicated and volatile problem.
Except, it comes too late. Most of South Florida's cities (and Miami-Dade County) have already passed 2,500-foot restrictions around schools, parks, day care centers, even school bus stops. The County Commission holds sway over less than three square miles of unincorporated Broward.
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