It’s been known for a couple years now that in Miami, laws regarding the residence of released sex offenders are so restrictive that there is literally nowhere legal for them to live. So it has become de facto policy in Miami-Dade County to tell the released sex offenders to live under a bridge.
The sex offenders committed a crime, in most cases a despicable one, that violated the bodily autonomy and rights of another person (or several).
The communities reaction should not be to further violate the perpetrator’s rights after they have done their time. That doesn’t make a right.
But what do you do when the whole community supports the violation of a basic right for a whole group of people?
“These laws are always universally popular,” [Corey Rayburn Yung, an expert in sex-offender law] said. “The public loves it.” (From the NYT)
I’ll tell you what. Forcing a group of people who are in recovery from a terrible behavioral problem into homelessness is not a solution here. This is not the American Way, this is not lawful, this is not moral, and it is not right.
Law-breakers who are released from prison must be reintegrated into society. Period. Continuing their punishment by denying them a basic human right and necessity takes us in the opposite direction from healthy reintegration. Someone who is put into a pariah state in this way has little incentive to remain law-abiding. I doubt creating a tent criminal colony on the edge of town is actually a proven and effective way of preventing crime. Just a guess.
So Miami, cut it out. I’m sure you feel smug and morally superior because of the out-sized extra post-prison punishment you put on your sex offenders. But a rights violation for a rights violation does not set the moral order back in balance.