Tag: under

An introduction to Bookville

 The newly coined name for the sex offender colony situated under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, in Miami, Florida, is Bookville.   Named after its creator, Ron Book, Bookville is the home to a group of homeless former offenders. 

Ron Book is the chairman of Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust.  In his position with the Homeless Trust, Book has become well known to the Miami-Dade area.  As the creator of Bookville, Ron Book has become known worldwide.  This latter distinction, we are sure is one that he would sooner have left out of his resume.

After his daughter was molested by a nanny hired by the family, (The nanny was not a registered offender) Book, filled with hate for all offenders, began a campaign to rid Miami of former sex offenders.  His hatred coupled with lack of knowledge and understanding of how to handle former offenders has lead to the creation of Bookville.

As for the former offenders who live in Bookville, they are not there by choice, nor are they there for lack of funds to find homes.  No, the former offenders who have been forced to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway are there due to oppressive residency laws that target only former sex offenders.  No other class of criminal is subjugated to such harsh treatment once released from prison or after being put on probation.   No other class of criminal is denied the right of reintegration into society.   

The former offenders of Bookville have been forced into homelessness by the very man who champions the cause of homelessness in Miami-Dade, Mr. Ron Book the chairman of Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust.   For Mr. Book, there is no lack of work; on the one hand he helps the homeless and on the other he create homelessness. One must ask, is this a conflict of interest?

Until recently, Bookville had gone mostly unnoticed by the residence of the city of Miami.  Oh, from time to time, someone would ask, “Why are there so many cars parked alongside the road next to the bridge?”  But other than for curiosity sake, this disadvantaged group went unnoticed.  Unnoticed until the day that SOSEN B.O.D. members paid a visit and filmed a documentary about the plight of those forgotten, undesirable members of society.   

While filming the documentary, the SOSEN B.O.D. members attended a Broward county Task Force meeting which Ron Book’s daughter sat on.  It was not long after this that the mainstream media began to seriously cover the plight of the residence of Bookville.

Today, Bookville stands as a testament to the arrogance of men; when they allow fear and hate to create laws, when they ignore facts and prefer prominence, the outcome is oppression and cruelty, the outcome in this instance is Bookville.

A change of attitude?
Since the media has begun to follow this story, many supports of residency restrictions have begun to backpedal.   Even Ron Book seems to have begun to rethink his position.  Book at onetime claimed that if an offender wanted too, they could find a place to live that was not in a restricted area.  However, since Book has been looking unsuccessfully for the past couple of months for housing for the former offenders who reside in Bookville, he is now seeing firsthand the conundrum that he helped to create.  One would think that he would see the folly of the laws he help to create.  Not so when hatred clouds the mind.  Proof of his hatred for these former offenders comes from his own comments. 

Speaking of the former offenders, Books had this to say as reported by www.justnews.com   “If they are not there, they are somewhere where we cannot keep track of them.  And that should be a scary concern for the public,” said Ron Book of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust.

“The concern is that any sex offender who is registered under the bridge but actually lives elsewhere is putting children at risk – because families in that neighborhood won’t know to be on alert.

“Can you imagine a community with a bundle of sex offenders and predators running loose in a community? Without anybody knowing where they are?” said Book.
Books is using fear and misinformation to gain public support for his position and to lessen the impact of the problems he helped to create.  The facts regarding former offenders that you will not hear from Books are these. 

1.   The registered offenders who live in Bookville are only required to spend the night sleeping under the bridge (6 hours).  During the day they work and can travel, visit family and shop.  If they were such a danger as Book claims, why there would be hundreds of sex offences being committed by them daily.  The press would be covering these stories and it would be widely known.  And yet that is not the case, is it?

2.    Re-offence rates for former offenders is surprisingly low.  According to the Department of Justice the recidivism rate for former sex offenders is only 3.5% over three years.  Compare that to other crimes. Auto theft -78.8%, Possession/Sale of stolen property -77.4%, Burglary -74%, Robbery -70.2%, Larcenist -74.6%

3.   According to studies in both Colorado and Minnesota, Residency Restrictions do not work and are counterproductive.

4.   According to the Department of Justice, 93% of new sex crimes are committed by people who have never been convicted of a sex offence.  Thus they were not on the registry and the registry was useless in preventing those offences.

5.   Support systems help to reduce recidivism.  Anything that keeps a former offender away from these support systems and accountability network would be harmful. Residency restrictions are harmful.   Former offenders need a stable home and work environment.

6.   Treatment has been proven to reduce recidivism to 1%.

7.      Megan’s Law ineffective, study says.” Philadelphia Inquirer.  Sat, Feb. 7, 2009   
The study, released Thursday, concludes that there is little evidence, despite the popularity of the sex-offender notification laws, that they are effective….  On the one hand, some people may take better precautions to protect their children if they know there is a sex offender in the neighborhood.  On the other hand, such laws can stigmatize sex offenders, placing them under greater stress, which can contribute to repeat offenses… The study estimated the cost of implementing Megan’s Law in 15 counties that responded to a survey to be $3.97 million per year, mostly attributed to additional staffing costs.  Recent studies on sexual offender notification laws in New York and Arkansas reached similar conclusions.

No Change
Even though there is now much talk about the problems created by counterproductive residency restrictions in Miami-Dade County, Florida, the inhabitants of Bookville still remain under the bridge.  The simple solution would be to ease the restrictions thus solving the problem.  However as with any issue where strong feelings are involved, pride and prejudice go hand in hand.  No one wants to be the first to blink.  Finger pointing seems to be a better solution for the politicians involved in the issue.  All the while they seem to be hopeful that the courts will absolve them before the voting public by ruling the restrictions in violation of state law.  That way they can pander to the public that, we tried their best to keep out the bogyman, but the court wouldn’t let us.  The real concern for these elected officials is votes not human lives.
Public opinion and the law
 The facts regarding former offenders are a far cry from the propaganda being spread about them.  The fact that 95% of convicted sex offenders will never commit another sex crime should warrant some change of policy.  But what will it take for the public to come to terms with sex offender hysteria and demand change?  Education of the public perhaps?  The media presenting facts and not pandering to fear for rating?  Politicians not pandering for votes by pushing counterproductive laws to make the public happy?  At SOSEN we feel that it will take all of the above.


What is SOSEN and what is SOSEN’s attitude about former sex offenders?
SOSEN is the Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network. The mission of SOSEN is to educate the public, media, law-enforcement, and legislators regarding the facts, based on current research, of sexual abuse. We strive to incorporate fact based solutions thus helping to change the laws that affect former offenders, their loved ones, victims and the communities where they live.

1.   At SOSEN, we do not condone what former offenders have done.  In many cases the harm done by former offenders is horrendous.  No one can take that away.  However, we feel that with proper treatment the victims can move on with their lives and put the pain and anger behind them.  We know that this is the best thing for them as many members of SOSEN are former victims who have reached out for healing and now live normal productive lives.
2.   We believe that treatment is key to reforming former offenders and returning them safely to society.
3.   We know that former offenders and victims alike can be productive, safe, responsible citizens who show both love and fellow feeling towards one another.  We know this because it occurs every day at SOSEN. 
4.   We believe that repeat offenders should bear the responsibility for their individual actions.  We also believe that those who have not reoffended should not suffer for the sins of those who have by the implementation of blanket laws that effect all former offenders.
5.   We do not condone vigilantism in any form.  Vigilantism aided by the public registry is directly responsible for the deaths of many former offenders.
6.   We believe that with good behavior, over a period of time, a former offender should be removed from the registry and all restrictions. 
7.   We do not believe that juvenile offenders should be place on the national registry. 
8.   We do not believe that consensual offenders should be placed on the national registry.
9.   We do not believe that ex post facto laws should be tolerated simply because they target one group, former offenders.
10.   We would like to see the registry returned to its original intent.  That of providing a database of truly dangerous offenders.  Only those that are determined by facts to be likely to reoffend, and then only in the hand of law enforcement due to vigilantism.

Before we end this article, we would like to return to the subject of Bookville.  Yes it still remains.   Since it does, we would like you to consider another group of sex offenders from the past.  These offenders wore a pink triangle to set them apart for the rest of the people.  The public was happy.  These offenders were herded away from the public for the sake of safety.  The public was happy.  In time more registries were set up and the list became wide with many colors of triangles being added.  The public way very happy.   In the end millions died, murdered.  You know it as the Holocaust.  The German public was condemned by the world for allowing such a thing to occur.  They were no longer happy.
Are there any similarities?
Today, sex offenders have been branded by a public registry, the new pink triangle.  The public is happy.  They are driven from their homes by residency restrictions.  The public is happy.  Now more registries are being added.  The public is very happy.  So tell me, will the American public be happy when there is another holocaust, an American holocaust, one created by "legal" design?

© SOSEN.us 2009