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Registration may contribute to homelessness among Florida sex offenders

According to a recent study, there may be troubling gaps in the way states in Florida and across the country register and monitor those convicted of sex crimes. Specifically, overlapping laws and restrictions may be contributing to homelessness among registered offenders.

The issue first received national attention in 2008 when a large Florida sex-offender colony -- more than 70 people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union -- formed under a Miami causeway. Due to restrictions passed by several local Florida jurisdictions, the offenders were banned from many neighborhoods, as well as the central city. As a result, Florida authorities say the spot under the causeway was one of the few areas in Miami-Dade County where registered sex offenders could legally reside.

For those convicted of a sex crime, the rehabilitation back into society contains several obstacles. The sex offender registry list is one such example. The National Sex Offender Public Website, which is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice, allows every citizen to search for the identity and location of known sex offenders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and even numerous Native American tribes.

Upon release, a sex offender is typically required to register his or her address with the FBI and appropriate local authorities. Notably, that registration requirement often is for life, and usually requires an offender to update his or her information in the event of moving to a new state.

Those in support of that registry believe it may help prevent repeat offenses of sex crimes. However, today's story illustrates that such measures may make it impossible for convicted offenders to rehabilitate and readjust to society -- or even find a place to live -- upon release. For that reason, an experienced criminal defense attorney can prove an invaluable advocate both before and after criminal charges.

Source: Arizona Republic, "Arizona, states failing to find places for sex offenders to live," Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Dec. 4, 2012

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