|The Julia Tuttle Causeway/ Bookville News Reel
Note: Some of these stories are no longer online. However, this newsreel helps create a time line of events in this saga, so I have decided to
keep this up.
|(c) 2007-2013 Derek W. Logue. No part of this website may be used in any way without expressed written consent of the site owner.
|CURRENT TV DOCUMENTARY ON THE JULIA TUTTLE
This video is just one of a series of videos focusing on the
Julia Tuttle Causeway.
For more videos, see the Julia Tuttle Causeway official
|The Julia Tuttle Causeway Camp Saga: Ron Book, the city of Miami, and the issue of homeless “Sex Offenders”
By: Derek W. Logue
April 24, 2013
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.”
WELCOME TO BOOKVILLE: THE JULIA TUTTLE CAUSEWAY CAMP
"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 
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 . Miami-Dade County passed their infamous 2500 foot ordinance that same year; it
was known as the “Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance .” 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 .
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 .
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 .
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 . 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 .
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 . 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 .
At the height of the publicity of the camp, the number of residents reportedly topped 140 . 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 . 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 . Among those residents, an attitude of fear,
anxiety, and distrust remained.
THE MAKING OF A BAD SEQUEL: THE JOURNEY TO BOOKVILLE II
"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 
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 . 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 . A number of former JTC camp registrants were even temporarily housed in the parking lot of the Florida
Department of Corrections .
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 ."
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 .”
In April 2013, the city of Miami is suing in Federal court to make an exception for homeless sex offenders to the 15-year-long “Pottinger
agreement.” (In 1988, about 5,000 homeless persons sued Miami over harassment and arrests for simply being homes, 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). 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 .”
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. 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 . The
CAST OF CHARACTERS
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 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
THE BAD GUYS
RON BOOK, THE MASTERMIND
“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 pled 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 ."
Of course, a mere $42,000 is nothing to a person who spent over a million dollars on his daughter’s wedding . 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  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 .” 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 .
In the meantime, Ron Book faces yet another federal investigation for giving kickbacks to political cronies, in this case, securing a cushy job
for a senator’s boyfriend . 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 .
LAUREN BOOK, THE MINION
"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
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 .
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 . 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 . As of
April 2013, Lauren Book is lobbying to dissolve more legal rights of those accused, but not convicted, of sexual offenses.
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 .
MIAMI CITY COUNCILMAN JOSE “PEPE” DIAZ: THE PATSY
"The county ordinance didn't prevent them from finding housing. The state is creating an issue out of an issue." – Jose “Pepe” Diaz
Miami City Councilman has been credited as the writer of the “Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance .” 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 .”
Of course, he could write off his rabid stance against rehabilitation by blaming it on a brain tumor .
SENATOR DAVID ARONBERG, THE COMIC RELIEF
“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 . 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 . While it would alleviate some restrictions in Florida’s cities with 2500 foot restrictions, the 500 foot increase from the
current state law  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 .
THE GOOD GUYS
FRED GRIMM, THE WHISTLEBLOWER
"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 .
THE SEX OFFENDER REFORMERS – SO CLEAR, SOSEN, AND MARY DUVAL (aka The Heroes)
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 .
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 . Videos of the
meeting were released on YouTube .
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 , 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 . The ARC Talk Radio show gave us a ground level view of the camp not covered by the media.
THE ACLU – THE LAW DOGS
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  . Despite this revelation, a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the JTC camp residents . 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 .
THE JULIA TUTTLE CAUSEWAY MEETS POP CULTURE
“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-old.” – 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 .”
“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, the sad legacy continues as Miami’s homeless registrants are shuffled from temporary camp to temporary camp. Some
have absconded (“gone underground”) while few find any permanent solution. Much like Banks’s novel, the end of this saga is neither happy
nor final. The saga continues.
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 .”
|JULIA TUTTLE CAUSEWAY/ BOOKVILLE CAMP SAGA PICTURES
|The Book Family at the Florida Legislature (How much for
that politician in the window?)
|Two "Bookville" residents survey the damage after the camp is destroyed in April
|Little River Pocket Park, designed to prevent homeless registrants from moving to the
|Mary Duval (d. 2011) visiting some residents of the JTC camp in 2009
|The Infamous "Bookville" Sign
| Mary Duval meeting with some of the JTC Camp Residents
|Shorecrest Camp 2012 JTC/ Bookville Camp 2007
|A picture of one of the former residents of the JTC/ Bookville camp, moved
temporarily to the Florida Dept. of Corrections parking lot, with other registrants.