The Julia Tuttle Causeway/ Bookville/ Lauren's Kingdom News Reel

Note: Some of these stories are no longer online. However, this newsreel helps create a time line of events in this saga.

(c) 2007-2019 Derek  W. Logue. No part of this website may be used in any way without expressed written consent of the site owner.
Lauren's Kingdom: Ron Book, Lauren Book, the city of Miami, and the ongoing homeless “Sex Offenders” crisis

By: Derek W. Logue of
April 24, 2013 -- Last Revision November 22, 2019


You had to see it to appreciate the juxtaposition of this horrible poverty — shanties with signs saying ‘Help’ — right under the bridge on
the way to glamorous Miami Beach. No one wanted to do anything about it because it was political suicide to ask for help for sex
.” -- Julie Brown, Miami Herald Reporter [1]

Of all the atrocities that have occurred as a result of sex offender legislation, few stories stand out more than the Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender
camp in Miami, Florida. For years, the camp stood as a monument to draconian legislation, and became a source of international embarrassment.
While the camp is not exist anymore (it was demolished in 2010), the city of Miami still struggles to this day with the treatment and housing of people
forced to register as sex offenders. While registrants across America face homelessness on a regular basis, few places in America created such a law
that literally forced registered citizens to live under a bridge as in Miami. This article tells the story of the camp that came to be known as “Bookville.”


"People call this place a camp, like it's pretty and fun. It's not fun at all. We are living like animals and trying to make the best of it."  --
Osvaldo Castillo, JTC camp resident in 2009 [2]

In 1995, the state of Florida passed one of the first residency restriction laws limiting where people convicted of sex crimes could live. Sparked by
rare high-profile cases, such as the Jessica Lunsford murder in 2005, a number of cities throughout the state of Florida increased local residency
restrictions between 1000 feet and 3000 feet [3]. The city of Miami Beach passed their infamous 2500 foot ordinance that same year; it was
followed by similar laws in 149 other municipalities [4]. A small group of homeless registrants were forced to live in an empty parking lot as a result of
the ordinance, but they were moved after it was discovered the lot was close to a center for child abuse victims. The registrants were eventually
ordered by the state to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway [5].

Five individuals became the first residents of the new Julia Tuttle Causeway camp. The sites offered no running water, no electricity, and no
protection from the elements. The Florida Department of Corrections could find no other alternative, and they justified the placement by stating that at
least the public knows where these individuals reside. Registrants on probation must remain in their homes from 10 PM to 6 AM, and a probation
officer arrived daily during predawn hours to verify the residents were staying under the bridge [6].

It did not take long for this new arrangement to stir up a lot of controversy. The Florida Department of Corrections initially denied that it had a policy
directing registrants to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, but a media investigation uncovered evidence to the contrary. In February 2008, when
the courts first attempted to remove the registrants, the number of people forced to live under the bridge had jumped from five to over twenty. In the
year preceding this order, four of the registrants failed to register, and only one had found housing. Corrections officials tried unsuccessfully to find
housing which met the 2500 foot requirement [7].

As the Julia Tuttle Causeway camp grew in number, the Julia Tuttle Causeway came became, in the words of Miami Herald reporter Fred Grimm, a
“stinking monument to bad public policy” and an “unsanitary affront to a civilized society.” As the camp became an international embarrassment, the
finger-pointing began, and various government agencies and legal groups began suing one another – the city sued the state, and the ACLU sued the
county. Meanwhile, State Sen. Dave Aronberg promoted a uniform but increased statewide residency restriction bill. The frustrated residents
renamed the camp “Bookville,” after powerful South Florida lobbyist Ron Book, who helped create the camp through his campaign for the 2500 foot
ordinance named after his daughter [8]. Book even lashed out at Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, telling the governor he was “fucking wrong” about the
state Department of Corrections’ role in placing registrants under the bridge [9].

Much debate had been made about where to place the JTC camp registrants. In the summer of 2009, another push was made to clear out the
registrants; among the proposed locations was the recently abandoned North Dade Detention Center [10]. Local officials and advocates proclaimed
they were resolving the crisis and had cut the number of homeless registrants to 43, but the JTC residents stated number under the bridge in August
2009 was closer to 80 [11].

At the height of the publicity of the camp, the number of residents reportedly topped 140 [12]. The registrants could not hide neatly under the bridge,
and that worried local politicians.

In February 2010, a countywide ordinance was adopted which created a uniform 2500 foot restriction from schools alone, opening up a small
handful of places were registered citizens could legally live in Miami-Dade County [13]. The passage of this bill would trigger a series of events that
would ultimately lead to the closure of the Julia Tuttle Causeway/ Bookville camp. In the spring of 2010, the camp was officially dismantled then the
remaining residents were moved into temporary housing throughout the city of Miami [14]. Among those residents, an attitude of fear, anxiety, and
distrust remained.


Bookville II: The Shorecrest Pocket Park of the Damned

"I've seen Third World countries with parks better than this." – Paul Anderson, Shorecrest community resident, in response to a community
pocket park designed to prevent registrants from living in the community [15]

It should come as no surprise that the remaining registrants were skeptical of the assistance offered by Miami–Dade County Homeless Trust
advocate Ron Book, the very man who created the JTC camp through his laws. Over the years, Book was seen as the central figure behind the
creation of the camp that mockingly bore his name sake. Book was even heckled during a community meeting formed over concerns of the dispersal
of the JTC registrants across the county [16]. If the general public had reason to be concerned, the registrants had even more reason to be concerned
for their well-being.

Ron book received $1 million to provide temporary housing to the displaced registrants, but less than three months later, the displaced registrants
were facing eviction from their temporary housing. About 20 faced eviction within a single month of displacement. Despite efforts to prevent
clustering, two clusters of displaced registrants formed, one at a trailer park in Allapattah, the other in a secluded area in the Shorecrest community
[17]. A number of former JTC camp registrants were even temporarily housed in the parking lot of the Florida Department of Corrections [18].

In response to the encampment in the Shorecrest community, Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff created the “Little River Pocket Park,”
specifically designed to prevent more registrants from setting camp in Shorecrest. Sarnoff made clear his intention to exploit a legal loophole to force
registrants out of Shorecrest:

"You can't be within a thousand feet of a park under state statute, so they (DOC) can no longer drop off any sexual offenders, predators, on 10th
Avenue and 79th Street. This park we've created has children's equipment so it's gonna preclude the state from dropping them off there and using us
as a dumping ground [19]."

Unfortunately this idea of legal manipulation has been mimicked in large cities like Los Angeles and small towns like Sapulpa, Oklahoma. One
Houston playground equipment business even uses the law as a selling point for their wares. The statement made by former LAPD and current LA
city councilman Joe Buscaino mimics the sentiment of his Miami counterpart:

“Regardless of whether it’s the largest park or the smallest, we’re putting in a park to send a message that we don’t want a high concentration of sex
offenders in this community [20].”

Bookville III: Off the Beaten Allapattah

Soon after the original Bookville camp was dismantled, some of the 92 reported exiled registrants were moved to "the River Park Trailer Court in
Allapattah, a collection of mobile homes and unpaved streets overrun by dogs." While the Homeless Trust had offered six months of rental assistance,
over 20 of those who received the assistance were evicted in about a month [21]. While this trailer park offered a better alternative to life in the
streets, it was also eventually barred from accepting registered citizens as well. In 2013, as many as 54 registrants at the trailer park were evicted
because it was determined to be too close to The Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, a place for troubled youth. [22] Many of the residents
settled in a small unincorporated warehouse area in Hialeah.

Bookville IV: Hialeah, City of Industry (the Homeless Registrant Industry, that is)

They treat us worse than they treat animals. If they see a dog on the street, they rescue him.” -- Rodriguez, a homeless registrant at the
Hialeah camp, in 2013 [23]

The camp in Hialeah formed in 2011, was no better than previous encampments, lacking running water, electricity, and waste management facilities.
Many residents made tents along abandoned railroad tracks and in empty parking lots. [24] A tour of the camp in March 2016 showed the
conditions are the camp were dire [25]. However, the media largely ignored the camp until August 2017, when the Miami New Times ran a report
on current conditions at the camp. The New Times reported area businesses complained for years but it fell upon deaf ears; "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...
Summer storms flood the encampment daily. Though most tents are mounted on plastic and wooden platforms, everything is constantly soaked. One
camp resident stated, "Every time it rains, we get flies and mosquitoes. It's ripe for disease... Animals live better than this." [26]

As the media from as far away as the UK began descending on the camp, "Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust workers, city officials, and police
officers visited the site," presumably for the first time in years. Ron Book denied knowledge the camp was a "health crisis." [27] Though Book vowed
a quick closure of the camp, the camp rebounded within weeks of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. [28] (Hurricane Irma also presented a
dilemma for the camp residents, as they were only given the option to stay in jail or a prison miles away during the storm under threat of civil
commitment by Ron Book. [29]) Ron Book and the Miami-Dade Commission, particularly Esteban Bovo, proposed a final solution, first proposed in
2013-- simply arrest homeless registrants for being homeless. [30]

On January 23, 2018, Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners unanimously passed Ordinance 18-01 specifically targeting the homeless camp in
Hialeah. [31] The date the roundup was to begin was the night of May 6, 2018. However, a stay of execution was granted until at least May 10,
2018 for a number of reasons. [32] One likely reason for the delay was a protest and public outrage from Kendall residents during an emergency
meeting. [33] Another reason is the same reason the move from the Julia Tuttle Causeway was unsuccessful -- lack of adequate housing. Even Ron
Book was forced to admit to the Miami Herald that the county is housing fewer than a dozen registered sex offenders in a system that provides some
sort of shelter — be it a bed or an apartment — for more than 8,000 people. In a May 2 letter to the county, the Legal Services lawyer who filed a
lawsuit against the County said Miami-Dade was able only to place a single camp resident in housing. [34] Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice
Kemp told Local 10 News, "All that we can do, as we do with all the homeless people in our community, is try to find a place, and we even give
them rental assistance -- up to six months of rental assistance if they can find a compliant address," [35] However, this was the same sales pitch given
those who live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway back in 2010.

On May 7, 2018 that Miami-Dade County was hit with a lawsuit to prevent the enforcement of the county ordinance. [36] Even though Judge Pedro
Echarte Jr. noted conditions at the camp were "deplorable," he denied a stay of execution, adding, "Conditions so bad that most of us would not want
our family pets living there. Sadly neither the outcome of this motion, nor this case, will correct this serious societal problem. That has to come from
the executive and legislative branch." [37] Authorities waste little time closing the camp, moving the remaining registrants out early on Saturday, May
12, 2018. The residents will simply find another location to camp. [38]

The Bookville Countywide Tour: Lauren's New Kingdom Coming soon to a Miami-Dade Community Near You

Weeks after the closure of the camp, the Miami New Times reported on the predictable result: city and county officials have turned Miami-Dade into
a modern-day Land of Nod; homeless registrants are now being shuffled throughout the city in roving communities. [39] So long as the county
continues to deny their residency restriction laws are the cause of the crisis, and someday, this section will be followed by another.


In 1988, about 5,000 homeless persons sued Miami over harassment and arrests for simply being homeless, while their property was destroyed by
law enforcement. A settlement was made which included expanded services and protection from arrest for “involuntary, harmless acts’’ without first
offering them an available bed in a shelter; this is known as the Pottinger agreement. In April 2013, the city of Miami sued in Federal court to make
an exception for homeless sex offenders to the 15-year-long “Pottinger agreement. The police are trying to justify this outrage by exploiting the fear
following the Boston Marathon bombing:

"Police said a terrorist could plant an explosive device in a homeless person’s backpack. ‘Under Pottinger now, if it looks like it belongs to the
homeless, we can’t touch it. It could be a bomb,’ said Miami police officer James Burnett" [40]. The ACLU and the county made an agreement in
2013 to place a two-year moratorium on any action to undo the Pottinger Agreement, adding, "However, no accord reached could have solved the
issue of homeless sex offenders until the County repeals its draconian 2500 foot sex offender residency restrictions or safe and permanent housing is
built that will provide lawful residences for men and women who have served their sentences but have no place to live. The ACLU will continue to
urge the County to revisit its residency restrictions, and to take whatever action is available to put an end to the local and state laws that are the root
cause of homelessness among former offenders. While not perfect, today’s agreement keeps the spirit of Pottinger, and the rights it protects, in
place." [41]

In November 2017, Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo introduced Miami-Dade Ordinance 172445 (cosponsored by Jose "Pepe" Diaz and
Rebeca Sosa) [42]. It passed the Public Safety and Health Committee on December 13, 2017 and adopted on January 23, 2018. At the meetings,
Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp noted the encampment was a difficult situation for the County, but clarified it was "not the County’s intent to arrest
their way out" or for the police to go out an arrest the individuals because they could not be taken to a shelter. Commissioner Diaz commented on the
severity of this issue and pointed out there were approximately 530 transients currently in the County who did not have a permanent address and
were required to check in every thirty days. Book concurred the proposed amendment had nothing to do with the 2,500 feet issue and was not
intended to criminalize homelessness. [43] The level of denial among the commission members and Ron Book is astounding.

When this article was first written back in 2012, I added, "The issue of what to do with the homeless registrants continues years after the dismantling
of the JTC/ Bookville camp in 2010 and will likely continue for years to come." We are seeing that this prediction has come true.  The solution is
simple—abolishing residency restriction laws. Panama City was one of the first cities to consider repealing strict 2500 foot restrictions, but backed off
out of fear the city would become a magnet for sex offenders across the state [44]. The saga continues.

For years, Anti-Registry Movement activists have alluded to the famous Martin Niemoller quote, "First they came for..." In May 2018, Miami-Dade
officials began the process to abolish the Pottinger Agreement. What began as an attack on homeless registrants has extended to the entire homeless
population. [45]


Just how difficult is it to find housing if you are a homeless registrant living in Miami-Dade County?

A 2013 report by Jill Levenson, Alissa Ackerman, Kelly Socia and Andrew Harris found "(In 2011) Broward and Miami-Dade Counties together
are home to 13.2% of the state's community sex offenders, but 37% of the state's transients." At that time, about one of 11 registrants in Miami-Dade
County alone were homeless, and one in five homeless registrants lived in Miami-Dade County. Statewide transient numbers for registered citizens
were a mere 3%. [46]  Paul Zandbergen and Timothy Hart found in July 2009 that out of 927,647 housing units in all of Miami-Dade County, only
43 actual rental units could be found, with 30 in unincorporated areas of the county; only about 4% of total residential units were compliant with the
overlapping state and local residence restrictions in effect at the time, and only 1% had a monthly housing cost of $1,250 or less. [47]

Ron Book repeatedly claims there is available housing, yet more recent studies have found that finding a compliant residence in Miami-Dade is a
herculean task:

"Book says the people in the encampment need to take more initiative to find housing. Trust staff have visited the encampment to tell them about
available housing assistance, he said. “We’ve told folks repeatedly, ‘You gotta jump on it — our staff is available to respond to you,’” he told In
Justice Today. 'There are places they can live.' But the 'Housing Search Tool for Homeless Sex Offenders' on the Trust’s website contradicts that
claim. The tool lets registrants plug in an address to check whether it’s in a banned zone. Of 20 randomly selected apartments under $1,100 selected
from and entered into the search tool, none fell outside a restricted zone. ($1,100 is the cutoff for what's considered affordable for a
Miami-Dade resident with the county annual median income of about $44,000.) Presented with those results, Book blamed the local housing market
and said the state legislature needs to appropriate money to house registrants away from the population, which he said he’s advocated for. But he
rejects the most obvious fix — getting rid of the 2,500-foot residency restriction." [48]

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida found just 320 affordable rental units in the entire county that met the requirements, and the
options available to indigent people are even more limited. Many of the camp residents have ties to Miami-Dade County, which makes it difficult for
them to pick up and leave to counties with less restrictive laws. [49]


A small number of individuals have played huge roles in this saga. The saga has all the makings of a Hollywood epic—a powerful (and corrupt) South
Florida lobbyist, a blonde professional victim industry spokeswoman, and a couple of pandering politicians helped create this saga. On the other side
of this issue, opposition from a heroic group of individuals stood determined not to let the city of Miami sweep this embarrassment under the rug.



Are they monsters? You bet they are.” – Ron Book

In this Hollywood-esque saga, Ron Book would play the main bad guy. Ron Book is a rich and powerful (and some say corrupt) South Florida
Lobbyist who commands nearly limitless power.

Ron Book has been a controversial figure long before the Julia Tuttle Causeway controversy existed. In the 1985, Ron Book was under investigation
for bribing a public official; a surveillance tape seemingly caught Book in the act. One year later, Ron Book was arrested for insurance fraud when he
overstated the value of a car he claims was stolen. Ultimately, Ron Book pled no contest to one misdemeanor count, and the judge withheld
adjudication (thus Ron Book did not have a criminal record from this case). In 1995, Ron Book plead guilty to four misdemeanor counts as a result
of funneling over $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions to political cronies he represented. His punishment was a mere $2000 fine and a $40,000
contribution to charity. Ron Book showed little remorse for his actions at the time, expecting sympathy for his position:

"Anyone who says the decision to stand up and accept responsibility was an easy one, I tell them: 'Get in my shoes, get in my clothes and feel it.' I
have been pained and I have been hurt. It hasn't been easy. Not at all [50]."

Of course, a mere $42,000 is nothing to a person who spent over a million dollars on his daughter’s wedding [51]. This extravagance is appalling
when you consider that Ron Book, the maestro of the Julia Tuttle Causeway camp, has served as the head of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust [51]
for years. Ron Book found himself in a paradox—he was charged to fix the very mess created by the residency laws he championed throughout
South Florida.

As the JTC camp became a public embarrassment, Ron Book claimed to have a change of heart. He told a Newsweek reporter he was wrong three
times, and vowed to sex offender researcher Jill Levenson he would be “part of the solution [52].” The JTC residents did not trust Ron Book, and for
good reason—within a month of removal from the camp, some of the homeless registrants who were promised six months of housing assistance
already faced eviction [53].

In 2011, Ron Book faced yet another federal investigation for giving kickbacks to political cronies, and in particular, securing a cushy job for a
senator’s boyfriend [54]. It is no small wonder Ron Book sought to lobby the US Supreme Court to overturn a Florida Supreme Court decision
banning gifts from lobbyists [55].

Despite the numerous controversies surrounding Ron Book, the fact Ron Book is no longer a resident of Miami-Dade County, and that Ron Book
has reached the term limits as head of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, Ron Book continues to act as chairman for the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust,
and it is obvious that he is still the shotcaller for the organization. [56]

Book is unrepentant about having helped create this crisis. Ron calls people on the registries "monsters" and "the creeping crud of society [57]." In the
"Untouchable" Documentary, Ron Book discussed his desire to subject registered citizens to "waterboarding." He boasts that he will never admit that
he is wrong on this issue:

“You’re not going to get me to ever say that residency restrictions are not appropriate. Just because there’s no study, no data [to show that they
work], you’ve got to use some level of common sense…. And common sense tells me that I shouldn’t think it’s OK to have predators and offenders
living in close proximity to schools, parks, playgrounds, daycare centers, and the like.” [58]


"We don't want anyone living under a bridge to be so desperate they reoffend." – Lauren Book

Lauren Book plays the role of the trusty sidekick to the mastermind Ron Book. Lauren Book is the motivation behind Ron Book’s crusade against
sex offenders. Lauren was molested by a female nanny (who had no previous sex crime record, it must be noted), which sparked the duo to
advocate for stricter laws against sex offenders. Lauren Book’s namesake was used on bills to eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crime
accusations and criminalize communications between an offender and a victim. Lauren helped her father pass stronger laws across the state [59].

Like her father, Lauren Book soon found herself facing the consequences of her laws, following her father to the Julia Tuttle Causeway camp. Despite
seeing the condition of the camp her namesake law created, Lauren stood by the decision to increase residency restriction laws [60]. Even now,
Lauren Book is still under the large shadow of her powerful father. Ron Book is still the President of “Lauren’s Kids,” the non-profit abuse
awareness organization bearing her name [61]. To her credit, she has been more willing to observe the harsh consequences of sex offender
legislation. On her 2013 “Walk in my Shoes” tour, she stopped at a Florida Civil Commitment Center to meet with those imprisoned in the program.
However, she remains skeptical of treatment and still believes we should not take chances with those in the program [62].

However, there is little incentive to make wholesale changes to bad public policy when politicians throw money into your namesake organization
when you don’t even request money for a specific cause [63].

Lauren Book sounds so much like her father, it appears they read from the same play book. Lauren Book told WXTL that all registrants are
"monster" and "In so many instances these individuals should never ever be allowed out for a second chance, they're ticking time bombs, its not a
questions if they a re-offend, it's a question of when they re-offend." [64]

Lauren faced criticism for accepting campaign contributions from the controversial private prison GEO Group. "Derek Logue, a convicted sex
offender who runs a website critical of the Books, says, 'I’d love it if someone challenged Lauren Book on collecting GEO Group money considering
the fact GEO group’s track record of allowing rampant physical and sexual abuse within their walls. I guess Lauren doesn’t care about abuse when it
is about juveniles in facilities.' (A Department of Justice investigation into the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which is run by GEO Group,
found that it was “deliberately indifferent to staff sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior with youth. The sexual misconduct we found was
among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.)" Lauren Book did not respond to that question. [65]

If the apple does not fall far from the tree, then the actions of Lauren Book while acting as a State Senator speaks volumes about her lobbyist father.
"Freshman Broward State Sen. Lauren Book says she won’t abstain from voting on matters involving clients of her father, powerful lobbyist Ron
Book. Similarly, she sees no conflict of interest in voting on measures to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit her non-profit charity and
political launching pad, Lauren’s Kids." [66] She told Florida Bulldog she stepped down as CEO of Lauren's Kids, but as of May 2018, Lauren
Book is still the acting CEO of that business. In fact, in 2017, Lauren Book voted to give Lauren's Kids an extra $1.5 Million while sitting on the
Senate Appropriations Committee. [67] The nine-page project application says that most of the $1 million would be spent on printing of materials,
curriculum fulfillment, storage, travel and videography. Other expenses include $75,000 for consultants, $55,000 for an executive director (listed on as Ivette Diaz) and $35,000 for a communications director (listed as Claire Van Sustersen, aka Horseteeth). The application says
Lauren’s Kids, which is overseen by the Department of Education, will seek an additional $3 million to $10 million in public money in the next five
years. [68] Now that Book is a state legislator, her nonprofit’s participation in the vanity auto tag renewal raises the possibility of a conflict of interest.
“In a perfect world, she would not do it,” said Beth Rosenson, a University of Florida political science professor who teaches government ethics. “It’s
an accountability issue that raises questions in constituents’ minds. It leads people not to trust government.” [69]


"The county ordinance didn't prevent them from finding housing. The state is creating an issue out of an issue." – Jose “Pepe” Diaz [70]

Jose Diaz, a Miami City Councilman, has been credited as the writer of the “Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance [71].” He has played the role as
patsy to the Book family, helping form a line of resistance to any efforts to resolve the JTC camp dilemma. In addition to denying the depth of the
problem, Diaz diverted attentions away from the camp by stressing the money to relocate the JTC residents should be used for other purposes:

“But I have reservations about how that money is being used. There is a terrible nationwide problem of increased homelessness among hardworking
people who were just keeping their heads above water until the recession hit. I recently found a heartbreaking case of a mother who had lost a job,
and she and her three children were living out of her car. I don’t think that those convicted of sex crimes should have any priority before regular,
decent citizens who have fallen on hard times [72].” Of course, he could write off his rabid stance against rehabilitation by blaming it on a brain tumor


Our current laws on ex-sex offenders have backfired. The legislature must act to protect public safety, or else a bad situation will only get

Ah, Flori-DUH. The state that is full of so much bad logic, the popular online news-comedy site FARK has its own section devoted just to Florida
stories [75]. So it should come as no surprise that a Florida politician offers an interesting solution to the homeless camp in Miami. Consider this
statement from Aronberg:

“If you want to increase the recidivism rate for sex offenders tell them they can’t live anywhere, and with no job and no home what do you think they
are going to do? They are going to commit more crimes.”

Senator Aronberg recognizes that residency laws are backfiring, so you would think he would understand the only solution to this issue. Instead, his
proposed solution was increasing the statewide residency restriction law to 1500 feet and adding 300 foot “child safety zones” to the restriction law
[76]. While it would alleviate some restrictions in Florida’s cities with 2500 foot restrictions, the 500 foot increase from the current state law [77]
would force thousands of registrants across the state into homelessness, creating the mess in Miami throughout the entire state. The more
commonsense solution is making the current residency restriction uniform, instead of increasing the statewide restriction. Better yet, repeal residency
laws altogether. New Jersey courts ruled the state Megan’s Law precludes residency laws [78]. Now that Lauren Book is a state senator, Aronberg
has disappeared from current discussion on this topic.



"You don't lose votes by being tough on sex offenders. We've all seen... spontaneous homeless camps pop up. But this is a camp created by
public policy

Miami Herald reporter Fred Grimm plays the role of the brave reporter who blew the whistle on the deplorable treatment and conditions of the JTC
camp. Much of the public knowledge of the camp came from Grimm’s reporting and through him the term “Bookville” to describe the camp. And it is
through Grimm the public learned of the continuing problem with the displaced Bookville registrants. Many absconded or were shuffled into run-
down hotels, trailers, and under bridges in other parts of the city [80]. Sadly, the Miami Herald largely went mum on the issue soon after the
dismantling of the JTC camp.

Thankfully, the local news media has increased coverage of the camp and on the Books in recent months. Local papers like the Miami New Times
and the Miami Herald have written articles critical of the push to arrest the homeless registrants, while watchdog websites like Florida Bulldog have
exposed potential conflicts of interest and corruption tied to the Book Crime Family.


From the beginning of the Julia Tuttle Causeway saga, those few brave who fight to reform the nation’s sex offender laws sought a solution to the
homeless camp. On June 16, 2007, a group of five activists, including Tom Madison of SO Clear Media, a representative from SOSEN, and other
concerned individuals visited Miami to raise awareness as well as seeking a home for the camp residents. However, the city of Miami backed off the
plan, denying the right to a public event and threatening those assembling the event with arrest if they did not leave. Ironically, the event was to be
held at the Chamber of Commerce, which was across the street from the Holocaust Memorial [81].

Despite the setback, the activists met under the Julia Tuttle Bridge in Miami. A few videos were made, and a group called “Housing 4 Offenders”
(H4O, a group from Orlando), offered housing for the most elderly members there, who were in poor health [82]. Videos of the meeting were
released on YouTube [83].

In 2009, Mary Duval, by then the CEO of SOSEN, visited the Julia Tuttle Causeway camp during her visit to Miami to make an appearance on the
Spanish TV Talk Show “Cristina.”. After writing about her experience walking through the camp and meeting the residents [84], Mary became the
“official spokesperson” for the camp residents. Mary Duval (with her co-host Kevin) devoted many episodes on her online radio talk show “ARC
Talk Radio” to the JTC camp controversy, featuring a number of registrants under the bridge and even villain Ron Book on her show [85]. The ARC
Talk Radio show gave us a ground level view of the camp not covered by the media.

In 2016, OnceFallen visited the camp to assess the current living situation, speaking with Felix Dean, one of the camp residents, and later returned to
the camp for "Christmas at the Camp," bringing needed supplies to the camp. Meanwhile, Florida Action Committee has been doing their part by
assisting with litigation against Miami-Dade County.


The ACLU has not always been quick to join the fight against tough-on-sex-crime legislation, but the ACLU played a role in raising awareness. In
August 2009, the ACLU released a study that found only 43 units were actually available at $1,250 or less a month in Miami-Dade County in July
2009.  At more truly affordable rents of $1,000 or less there were only 15 units actually available, and at $750 or less a month, there were zero units
[86] . Despite this revelation, a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the JTC camp residents [87]. The ACLU has continued battling
residency restrictions in Florida after the camp was dismantled, though Florida courts continue to deny the unconstitutionality of the residency laws

As previously stated, both the ACLU of Florida and Legal Services of Miami have been working on repealing the Lauren Book residency restriction


The trouble with the law is that it lumps everyone together: serial rapists, pedophiles, guys convicted of indecent exposure because they
got caught urinating outside, some 18-year-old boy who has oral sex with a 15-year-ol
d.” – Russell Banks, Novelist

In “Lost Memory of Skin,” Author Russell Banks creates a fictional account of life under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Banks drew his inspiration from
the media reports from the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which he could see from his balcony. Banks researched the camp himself and what he saw
appalled him. Banks was well aware of the cause of the dilemma:

“It’s become a national preoccupation, this fear of sex crimes. It’s almost like the Salem witch trials. But where is the fear coming from? I don’t think
it’s about sex so much as some deep-seated sense that we’ve failed to protect our children [89].”


It feels sort of ghostly. But there used to be a whole shantytown here. There were pup tents, lean-to’s made from old sheets of plywood. I
think there was an old camper van, and there was even a generator, because they had to be able to charge their electronic ankle bracelets
– Russell Banks in the NY Times

This story is far from over. The Julia Tuttle Causeway camp, formed in 2006 as the result of Miami’s 2500 foot residency laws, was dismantled in
April 2010. However,  Miami’s homeless registrants are shuffled from temporary camp to temporary camp. Some have absconded (“gone
underground”) while few find a permanent solution to the crisis.

In 2013, the city of Miami battled the ACLU over a move to amend a 1998 settlement (The "Pottinger" decision aka the Homeless Protection Act),
which would, among other things, exclude homeless Registered Citizens from protection from harassment from law enforcement officers, the
destruction of their property, and other "life-sustaining benefits" as the other homeless people in Miami [90]. Miami shut down subsequent camps at
Shorecrest in 2012 by building a makeshift pocket park, and closed down an Allapattah trailer park in 2013, both times pushing registrants further
from the edges of society [91].  In October 2014, the ACLU filed yet another suit after the homeless registrants were forced to live along train tracks
and abandoned warehouses in Hialeah [92]. With Hialeah camp closure in 2018, it seems the game of musical homeless registrant camps will begin
again. It seems the sad legacy of the Julia Tuttle Causeway Camp has continued long after the camp was dismantled.

It is fitting to end this article with one final quote from Russell Banks as he reflects on the city of Miami:

You know that you’ve come to the bottom of the continent here… If you think about it, all of Miami is artificial. The whole place is one big
work of fiction


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  11. “More registered sex offenders to move from under bridge.” WSVN 7, Aug. 18, 2009.,
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  17. Samuels, “Wandering Awaits”
  18. See the images taken from a former JTC camp registrant at
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    com/2013/03/10/us/building-tiny-parks-to-drive-sex-offenders-away.html, Retrieved April 22, 2013
  21. Robert Samuels. "Sex offenders seek housing after closing of camp under the Julia Tuttle Causeway." Sun-Sentinel. July 27, 2010. http:
  22. Charles Rabin, Maria Perez AND Gregory Castillo, "Sex offenders forced from Allapattah trailer park, now in Hialeah." Miami Herald.
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  23. Ibid.
  24. Derek Logue. "Miami Dade Homeless Registered Citizen Camp, March 26, 2016." Youtube, April 5, 2016.
  25. Terrance McCoy, "Miami Sex Offenders Live on Train Tracks Thanks to Draconian Restrictions." Miami New Times. March 13, 2014. http:
  26. Isabella Vi Gomes. "Hundreds of Miami Sex Offenders Live in a Squalid Tent City Near Hialeah." Miami New Times. August 8, 2017. http:
  27. Isabella Vi Gomes, "Two Weeks After New Times Story, Ron Book Wants to Close Sex Offender Camp Near Hialeah." Miami New Times.
    August 24, 2017.
  28. Isabella Vi Gomes, "A Month After Irma, Miami-Dade's Sex Offender Camp Is Still There." Miami New Times. October 20, 2017. http:
  29. Wilson Sayre. "During Hurricane Irma, Registered Sex Offenders Struggle To Find Shelter." WLRN South Florida. Aept. 9, 2017. http://wlrn.
    org/post/during-hurricane-irma-registered-sex-offenders-struggle-find-shelter; Smiley, David. “Miami’s homeless to be committed if they won’
    t seek shelter from Irma.” Miami Herald. 7 Sept. 2017.;
    “Miami's homeless held against their will ahead of Hurricane Irma.” CBS News. 8 Sept. 2017. Web. <https://www.cbsnews.
  30. Isabella Vi Gomes. "Miami-Dade Commissioners Want Cops to Arrest Homeless Sex Offenders on Sight." Miami New Times. November 7,
  31. Official memo at
  32. "Residents Of Homeless Sex Offender Camp Ordered Out Given Extension." CBS Miami. May 7, 2018. http://miami.cbslocal.
    com/2018/05/07/residents-of-homeless-sex-offender-camp-ordered-out-given-extension/ , Retrieved May 7, 2018
  33. Laura Rodriguez. "Kendall Residents Outraged Over Possible Relocation of Sex Offenders." May 6, 2018. https://www.nbcmiami.
  34. Douglas Hanks, "Homeless sex offenders living in tents outside Hialeah say they have nowhere to go." Miami Herald. May 4, 2018. http:
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  38. "Police Move Remaining Homeless Sex Offenders Out Of Encampment." NBC 6 Miami. May 12, 2018. https://www.nbcmiami.
  39. Jessica Lipscomb. Police Now Shuffling Tent City Sex Offenders Around Miami-Dade. Miami New Times, 24 May 2018. http://www., Retrieved 16 July 2018.
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  42. See
  43. See
  44. Sandra Osborne. “Panama City Commissioners Keep Sex Offender Ordinance the Way It Is.” WJHG 7, Jan. 12, 2011. http://www.wjhg.
    com/home/headlines/113323159.html, Retrieved April 22, 2013
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    May 2018., Retrieved 16 July
  46. Jim DeFede. “Crime & Politics: The continuing success of lobbyist Ron Book: Perverse proof of how much lawmakers need lawbreakers.”
    Miami New Times, Nov. 9, 1995., Retrieved April 22, 2013
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  48. Paul Zandbergen and Timothy Hart. "Availability and Spatial Distribution of affordable housing in Miami-Dade County and implications of
    residency restriction zones for sex offenders." ACLU of Florida, July 2009.
  49. Steven Yoder. "As Deadline Approaches for Homeless Ex-Offenders in Florida, County Threatens to Jail Them." Injustice Today, April 5,
    WHAT?" The Intercept. May 5, 2018.
  51. Jessica Sick. “A Wedding for the Books: A Florida lobbyist goes all out for his little girl's big day.” NBC Miami 6, March 19, 2009. http:
    //, Retrieved April 22, 2013
  52. See
  53. Skipp, “A Bridge Too Far”
  54. See Sex Offender Issues, “The homeless sex offenders the Homeless Trust "helped," are now being evicted and once again will be homeless
    (Just shows, you can't believe the hype from Ron Book and the media!).” SOI Blog, April 17, 2010. http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.
    com/2010/04/fl-homeless-sex-offenders-homeless.html, Retrieved April 22, 2013
  55. Bob Norman. “Exclusive: Feds Eyeing Lobbyist Ron Book, Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority.” Miami New Times Blog, Feb. 11, 2011., Retrieved April 23, 2013
  56. Catharine Skipp. "THE LOBBYIST WHO PUT SEX OFFENDERS UNDER A BRIDGE." Newsweek. July 24, 2009. http://www.
  57. Yoder, Injustice Today
  58., Retrieved April 23, 2013
  59. Skipp, “A Bridge Too Far”; See also “Residency Restrictions/Local ordinances: Sets a 2,500 foot
    distance from where predators and offenders may live from schools, parks, day care centers, and places where children congregate.”
  60. Douglas Hanks. "No need for discussion: Lobbyist’s 12-year tenure as homeless chief is extended." Miami Herald. June 21, 2016. http://www., Retrieved May 7, 2018
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    com/Health/MindMoodNews/sex-abuse-victim-advocates-homeless-molesters-miami/story?id=8793505&singlePage=true, Retrieved April
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  78., as of April 23, 2013, (2)(a) A person who has been convicted of a violation of s.
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    the offense was less than 16 years of age, may not reside within 1,000 feet of any school, child care facility, park, or playground. However, a
    person does not violate this subsection and may not be forced to relocate if he or she is living in a residence that meets the requirements of this
    subsection and a school, child care facility, park, or playground is subsequently established within 1,000 feet of his or her residence.
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  86. ARC Talk Radio,, Featured Episodes List: 04/30/2009 09:00 PM EDT, **SPECIAL
    NIGHT**American Citizens Living under a Bridge; 06/17/2009 09:30 PM EDT, LIVE FROM MIAMI FLORIDA!!!!!; 07/02/2009 08:30
    PM EDT, JULY 2ND 8:30PM EST RON BOOK FROM FLORIDA; 07/22/2009 09:30 PM EDT, SPECIAL GUEST* Homer from the
    JTC Bridge; 07/29/2009 09:30 PM EDT, Special Guest-JTC RESIDENT TERRY; 02/03/2010 08:00 PM EST, JTC RESIDENCE
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  89. ACLU, “Judge Upholds Sex Offender Residency Law; ACLU to Appeal.” ACLU, Nov. 30, 2012.
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  90. CHARLES McGRATH, “A Novelist Bypasses the Middle to Seek Out the Margins.” New York Times, C1, October 15, 2011. Online at, Retrieved April 23, 2013
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  92. Rabin, Charles, Perez, Maria & Castillo, Gregory. "Sex offenders forced from Allapattah trailer park, now in Hialeah." Miami Herald. 8 Aug
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  93. Rabin, Charles. "ACLU sues over rule on where sex offenders can live in Miami-Dade." Miami Herald. 23 Oct. 2014. Web. <http://www.>
  94. McGrath, "Novelist" NYTimes
Left: Camping out under the Julia Tuttle Causeway circa 2009. Right: "Welcome to Bookville" sign at entrance to JTC camp
Left: Mary Duval of visits the camp under the Julia Tuttle Bridge in 2009. Right: Camp Resident settles in for the night
Left: JTC residents survey the dismantling of the camp in April 2010. Right: Resident of JTC camp shows ID listing address as JTC
Left: Campers stayed temporarily at an FDC Parking Lot. Right: Resident at the Shorecrest Camp.
Left and Right: The Infamous (and creepy) "Little River Pocket Park" created to prevent registrants from camping at Shorecrest
Left: Christmas Day at the camp in Hialeah, 2016. Right: Members of OnceFallen & WAR of FL boxing up care packages for camp
residents, Christmas Eve 2016.
Left: JTC Camp Location, 2007-2010. Right: Protest at proposed homeless camp in Kendall, 2018
Left: Shorecrest Location. Center: Toilet at the JTC Camp. Right: Allapattah Camp location.
Left: Location of Hialeah Camp. Right: Ron & Lauren Book Politician Shopping
Left: Ron "Book I Am" Parody, 2008. Right: Bookville Demotivational Poster, 2009.
Left: Miami Residence Restriction Map, 2018. Right: Parody Poster from the Rally in Tally Protest, 2015.