In an article on South Florida’s CBS4 News on vaccinating the homeless, Miami-Dade Homeless Trust Chair Ron Book made an interesting statement. “The average homeless person lives 13 to 17 fewer years than either you or I will live,” he said. 17 years is a lot of years. That’s more than 20% of the average lifespan in the US.

It got me thinking… If there are actual statistics to back up that statement, and we know there are studies to demonstrate that Sex Offender Residency Restrictions (SORRs) lead to homelessness, we have a causal connection between SORRs and a pretty significant lower life expectancy.

The government has been arguing for years that Florida Statute 775.215 (Residency restriction for persons convicted of certain sex offenses) as well as the myriad of County and local SORRs are not “punishment”. The primary rebuttal has been that SORRs are tantamount to common law banishment, which has historically been considered punishment. In many states that argument has prevailed, but no such luck in Florida.

But would being legislated into a consequence resulting in a reduced life expectancy constitute punishment? Untimely death is a “pain or loss”, isn’t it? Even prisoners (who are unquestionably being punished) have safeguards to protect against “non-punishments” that harm them. For example, when it comes to scientific research involving the use of inmates, 45 CFR §46.306 states that the research can involve “no more than minimal risk and no more than inconvenience to the subjects;”

… sure walks and quacks like a duck, huh?

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