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Park Created To Keep Sex Offenders Away

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In order to keep more sex offenders from congregating overnight on the sidewalk in one Shorecrest neighborhood, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff thinks he's found the solution.

He made a park.

Last month concerned homeowners contacted the commissioner to see what he could do to keep about two dozen men from gathering nightly on the sidewalk next to a vacant lot owned by the city near the corner of NE 79th Street and 10th Avenue, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade has some of the strictest laws on the books for where sex offenders can live. It bars them from living within 2,500 feet of a school, which exceeds the state's 1,000-foot restriction. They are also not allowed to live near parks where children play.  The makeshift encampment in Shorecrest was one of the few places left in the county where they could go.  According to some who slept there, they were told of the spot by their probation officers.

Now Sarnoff has created a park in the vacant lot.  Under state law, those who sleep there at night can stay but no new offenders are allowed to 'move in'.

Hamlet Cabrera said he'd like to see a more permanent solution to keep sex offenders out of his neighborhood.

"It's really not the best way to handle the situation, I mean, rather than addressing it you're creating, know just a loop, a loophole around it," said Cabrera.

Twenty four "transient" sex offenders list the corner the corner as their home residence on a registry maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Some of the men sleep in their cars, others spend the night in folding chairs. All wear ankle monitoring devices which let their probation officers know if they stray from the area overnight.

Sarnoff said he sent the Governor and the State Department of Corrections a letter demanding that they stop sending sex offenders to Shorecrest.

"Rick Scott needs to wake up and say I can't have my department of corrections putting registered sex offenders in Shorecrest in the upper east side," said Sarnoff.

Miami officials have notified the corrections department about the new park's existence.

CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

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