By JENNIFER KAY
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) – The mayor has proposed an ordinance that would effectively ban registered sex offenders from living in Miami Beach.
Mayor David Dermer wants to prevent sex offenders from living within
2,500 feet, or a half-mile, of any school, school bus stop, day care
center, park or playground on the 7.5-mile-long barrier island.
Currently, sex offenders must stay 1,000 feet from those areas.
“The intention of the law is to deal with very serious offenders, to not
have them living within close proximity of potential victims,” Dermer
The City Commission unanimously passed the measure in a preliminary vote last week; the panel will consider it again May 18.
The proposal comes after two recent killings of girls in Florida,
9-year-old Jessica Lunsford and 12-year-old Sarah Lunde. State lawmakers
have approved a bill setting mandatory 25-year minimum prison sentences
for people convicted of certain crimes against children, and lifetime
monitoring by global positioning satellite. Gov. Jeb Bush has said he
intends to sign it.
About 13 percent of Miami Beach’s nearly 88,000 residents are under 18.
Thirty-one sexual offenders and predators are registered in the city.
Dermer said his ordinance would complement a state statute prohibiting
the sale of sex paraphernalia within 2,500 feet of a school.
Sgt. Robert Hundevadt of the Miami Beach police special victims unit said
Dermer’s measure improves upon the state’s statute because it applies to
all convicted sex offenders and predators, not just those under
But Tulane University constitutional law professor M. David Gelfand said
similar attempts to keep felons or others out of certain communities have
run afoul of the Constitution’s dormant Commerce Clause, regulating the
free movement of goods and people.
“The courts have made it clear that just because a person in unattractive
to a community, you cannot pass a law that will exclude them from a
community and push them into other communities,” he said.
Several Miami Beach parents said a protective zone should be just part of
the city’s plan for protecting their children from sex offenders.
Karen Rivo, president of the Nautilus Middle School parent-teacher
association, said she supports the mayor’s proposal but she thinks
improving school security with better-trained guards, alarm systems and
perimeter fences should also be addressed.
© Copyright The Associated Press.