We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

Inside the town built for sex offenders: Florida 'safe haven' where 200 convicted sex criminals and their relatives live side by side

9-7-2014 Florida:

  • Miracle Village, just outside Everglades in south Florida, was established in 2009 by the late evangelical pastor Dick Witherow
  • Borne out of religion, it is place where registered sex offenders can live without judgement and repent their sins
  • Many offenders find it near impossible to find housing in Florida, where they are not permitted to come within 1,000 feet of children
  • Brooklyn-based photographer Noah Rabinowitz spent three days in the village capturing the people who live there
  • Rabinowitz says he was more interested in capturing a self-governed society, rather than what had brought them together

Some wear GPS devices that are constantly monitored by police.

Others have fled their homes; repudiated by the local community for being a registered sex offender.

And all of them - from those charged with possessing child pornography to ones caught having sex with a minor and molestation - are there to 'repent their sins'.

Welcome to Miracle Village, a tiny church town spanning about 20 acres on the edge of Everglades in south Florida, which was established in 2009 as a spiritual safe haven for sex offenders and their families.

With a population of about 200, it is believed to be the largest sex offender community in the United States.

Brooklyn-based photographer Noah Rabinowitz (Pictured below on cycle) has captured a fascinating inside look at the town, which is surrounded by sugarcane fields and was built in the 1960s to house workers.

He spent three days taking pictures and talking with the residents who gave him permission.

'There are no violent criminals in the town, [which is] a strict guideline to admission,' Rabinowitz told Feature Shoot.

'It is a deeply religious, tight knit and strictly self-governed community.'

'I wanted to treat the offenders and non-offenders in the same manner and instead think about the town as an example of a self-governed community built around common experience, whatever that might be.'

While the town looks and sounds like a colony of outcasts with no other option, it is actually a highly sought-after place to live.

Finding housing as a sex offender in Florida is almost impossible, with state laws forbidding them to go within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, parks or any other place there might be children.

Different cities and counties have increased that distance to 2,500, or half a mile.

Additionally, a lot of offenders come out of prison with little to no money.

'Application numbers are very high and admission, based on a voting system, is very selective,' Rabinowitz said.

'Moral and ethical judgments aside, the residents are trying to live out their American Dream, in the only way the law and society will allow.

'Some discuss their hopes for life after their time in Miracle Village, but many find it to be a safe place and wish to stay.'

Miracle Village was set up by the late evangelical pastor Dick Witherow, according to ABC News.

Witherow came close to being charged with statutory rape as a 18-year-old after getting his 14-year-old girlfriend pregnant.

He would teach a sexual purity to those living there each week.

There are also anger management and bible study classes.

Most of the sex offenders are required to attended psychological treatment programs as part of the conidtions of their probation.

Others have jobs in the surrounding towns, the nearest of which is two miles away.

Many nearby residents relocated after Miracle Village was founded, and a bus stop that was out front of the village entrance was moved so no children would come near the community. ..Continued ..w/many more pictures.. by Joel Christie

No comments: