Miami’s City Commission gave preliminary approval to a law that would force sexual offenders and predators to live at least 2,500 feet from schools and parks, the Miami Herald reports. Current law requires a 1,000-foot distance. The move comes after several other South Florida cities — most notably, Miami Beach — took steps to enact similar rules. Some commissioners said that unless Miami did the same, it could become a sex offender dumping ground.
Critics say South Florida cities are in a race to push sexual offenders out of town, even if the new laws force them into neighboring municipalities and despite questions about civil rights violations. Child advocates worry that the 2,500-foot rule will hurt those it pledges to help by discouraging sexual offenders from registering. Nancy Sabin of the Minnesota-based Jacob Wetterling Foundation said children are abused more often by people who aren’t on the registered sexual offender list, such as a soccer coach, a favorite uncle, or a schoolteacher.