Venturing far into the swamp lands of southern Florida, alligators lazily crawl through murky irrigation waterways and sugar cane lines the marshy fields. Further down the muddy road, old plantation flats border the homestead grounds.
Prior to the 60s the dwellings were used to house seasonal Caribbean sugar cane workers. Eventually, modern machinery replaced human laborers and the plantations deteriorated.
Today, plantation workers harvesting sugar cane are a memory of the past. The area is now known as Miracle Village, tucked-in miles away from the closest town, Pahokee.
The name Miracle Village is a reminder of a tranquil country retreat, but in 2009 the Christian non-profit organization — Mathew 25 Ministries — transformed the abandoned, rat-infested plantation into housing for sex offenders released from prison.
Last head count, according to Pat Powers, executive director of Miracle Village, the grounds housed 155 sex offenders.
It’s an even trade. The residents maintain the lawns and houses in return for the opportunity to live in a supportive community, minus ceaseless shame for being a registered sex offender.Read More
By Aaron C. Davis
Maryland officials in recent weeks quietly removed the mug shot of convicted child molester Robert M. Haines Jr. from the state’s sex-offender registry.
They also deleted the Internet link to the former middle school teacher’s guilty plea to charges he abused a 13-year-old student decades ago. Haines’s physical description, the address of the cottage he lives in near Annapolis, the make and model of the car he drives: Everything the state had tracked for years to keep him from anonymity was erased.
Haines was removed not because he was exonerated of his crime. His information was taken down because of a recent ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals declaring sex-offender registration unconstitutional punishment for those who committed crimes before the registry began in 1995.
Under the ruling, Haines may be the first of almost one in four registered sex offenders who Maryland could be forced to scrub from its online database. Maryland officials are now bracing for the possibility that a wave of lawsuits following his case could require the state to delist roughly 1,800 of its 8,000 registered sex offenders, state records, e-mails and interviews show. State officials say they’ll forcefully challenge each suit.
And the fallout could go further. The state’s second-highest court is now weighing whether the Haines case should be applied to a broader group, beginning with a Montgomery County man who pleaded guilty in 2001 to preying on a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl over the Internet.Read More