When I lived in Broward County, Florida (near Fort Lauderdale), the only “available” places to live were in the warehouse district, by the wharf, in a business park… in other words, not “housing.” There WERE, to be fair, a few places; however, most of them were very high rent, or else restricted (i.e., 55 & over). I managed to live in the back of the church for a year, and spent another 6 months on the floor of the Pastor’s house. When I changed probation officers, the new one made me move from the comfortable home I was in (my brother, not being a sex offender, was allowed to stay), and move 45 minutes away to Miami, to a place that was, quite literally, the wrong side of the tracks.
The trailer park there looked like it had been hit by a bomb – or else like it SHOULD have been bombed, to wipe it off the map. Most of the trailers were cobbled together with bits & pieces of boards, wire, etc. The trailer I lived in was a single wide unit which had been converted to three separate apartments. However, when they separated the apartments, they didn’t change any of the wiring. If I wanted to microwave something, that was the only appliance I could run – else I would pop the breakers and have to be in the dark (and heat) until the person on the other end flipped the switch.
The place was overrun with crack dealers and whores, full of rats, cockroaches, and other vermin – and this was the place that was “acceptable” for me to live. After four months living in squalor, I finally found a room for rent in a house for $500 a month (a tight squeeze financially, but at least it was livable). My brother & I shared that room for 6 months … and shared one bathroom with 7 other people in the house, before I finally got off of probation and was able to move.
I will never, ever return to Florida. I have been desperately seeking legal counsel to help me get my sentence overturned, but I have yet to find a lawyer willing to take the case. If I am successful, it would mean the reversal of THOUSANDS of sentences across the country.
“Judge not lest ye be judged” is something that the proponents of these laws apparently haven’t heard of; neither is “love your neighbor as yourself.” I am not the same person I was when I committed my crime 17 years ago. I have grown, moved onward and upward, and have worked assiduously to distance myself from the kind of thinking (and actions) which led me to prison in the first place.