Even when they found a place, they were often evicted and relocated once a new school was built in their vicinity. By , probation officers called the warehouse district in North Miami-Dade one of the last few places in the county where sex offenders could live.
Since then, many have reluctantly called it home. Eighty-eight are on probation with ankle monitors tracing their movement. The area, which straddles the boundary between Hialeah and Liberty City, has no outhouse, so offenders squat outdoors behind an orange Schneider shipping container to defecate. The smell is rank in the summer heat. Without an active sewer line, muddy drainage collects along the curb, mixing with debris and waste. Local businesses have removed knobs from outdoor water spigots, and the only public bathroom is in a Walmart one mile away.
Though a Key Biscayne church group delivers hot meals, water, and snacks Tuesday evenings, it's merely a Band-Aid on a festering wound. Summer storms flood the encampment daily. Though most tents are mounted on plastic and wooden platforms, everything is constantly soaked. Brett Borges, a year-old from Hollywood, shows the ripped seams on his tent. An entire side has been duct-taped several times. As he pulls out a green camo sleeping bag, water and sand fall from the fabric. Animals live better than this.
After traveling to meet the minor at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Borges was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Released this past February, he says, "This was my first offense.
I've never even gotten a parking ticket. Because offenders' addresses are listed in the public registry, living on the streets has involved never-ending harassment and peril, Borges says: Suffering from a dislocated hip and a heart valve problem, he lifts a pant leg to reveal a blistering, inflamed skin infection below his ankle monitor. Translating, his friend Benitez exclaims, "He says 'prejudice' because they refuse him medication. Now they put an ankle monitor and say to stay here.
He can't even walk! Connected to it is a mess of USB cables, some connected to iPhones, others charging ankle bracelets. Photo by Isabella Gomes Less than a block away, Juan Escobar, the year-old manager of a collision repair business, says the camp is just as much of a health hazard to the people who work in the area. Bordering the right side of his garage are train tracks littered with rubbish such as half-eaten bags of cereal, soiled socks, and wet boxer shorts.
Most concerned are the small, family-owned businesses. Steve Grafton, Mary's husband, inherited Grafton Furniture from his parents, who had bought the building in Inside, dainty swatches of brocade and velvet dangle in the showroom. He points in the direction of the encampment two blocks down the road: Musa's wife, sister-in-law, brother, and nephew all work in the office. His year-old son and year-old daughter often visit as well. Musa says he has called the Miami-Dade Police Department at least 50 times to report disturbances, but Det.
Robin Pinkard, the department's representative, claims "no more than a half-dozen complaints have been received. MDPD doesn't elaborate on the contradiction. Desperate, business owners have put up barbed-wire fences. Medina even hauled his restaurant's dumpster into the gated area out back after offenders kept throwing bags of feces in it. If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.