Courts & Crime

Judge upholds Miami-Dade restrictions on sex offenders

MIAMI — A Miami-Dade judge on Thursday upheld the right of local jurisidictions to pass tough ordinances on where convicted sex offenders can live, rebuffing a lawsuit file by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida that says the local ordinances are superceded by more lenient state law.

At issue is restrictions that have forced many sex offenders in Miami-Dade County to take up residence under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which links downtown Miami with Miami Beach.

In the suit, filed against Miami-Dade County, the ACLU argued that the county's ordinance banning sex predators from living within 2,500 feet of schools conflicts with a 1,000-feet state statute.

The ACLU claimed there was an "implied preemption'' by the Legislature that local municipalities' ordinances would fall in line with the state's law.

But Miami-Dade Attorney Tom Logue countered that, if true, the Legislature would have clearly inserted the preemption language into the statute. He pointed out that lawmakers have tried and failed over the years to agree on whether local ordinances should follow state law.

That effort -- and its repeated failure to pass the Legislature -- demonstrates there was nothing in the original statute that would prohibit municipalities from drawing up their own restrictions.

The ACLU, however, implored Judge Pedro P. Echarte Jr. to consider that the law was designed to protect children from convicted sex offenders and predators.

They and others have long claimed that the stricter ordinance makes it impossible for the predators to find a decent place to live. As a result, it fails to protect children because it forces molesters to disappear and abscond, leaving the public and police unable to keep tabs on them.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com.

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