Julia Tuttle Bridge-Dweller Goes Home
Big Man, one of the men sent to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway because of a county ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living in most of Miami-Dade -- “Sex Offenders Set up Camp,” – has been allowed to return home with his wife in Pompano Beach. His case, it turns out, was different from the rest of the bridge-dwellers. For one thing, Big Man’s sexual assault case is twenty-three years old and he isn’t listed on any state registry as a sex offender. For another, his terms of supervision had been set not by the Department of Corrections but by the Parole Commission. So, having completed a two-month parole, he was allowed to leave the bridge.
“I’m out, I’m home,” he told New Times over the phone. He says the adjustment back to normal life – Big Man had been sent to the bridge after three years in prison – has been tricky. “Man, let me tell you something – them dudes when they come up out of there, they have to shake that bridge mentality,” he said. “That bridge changes who you are. It aint no good, man, it aint no good.”
Big Man has kept in touch with some of the men by cell phone; he says he plans to go under the bridge on Christmas Eve with “food and stuff” – “Most definitely I’m happy to be out,” he added. “But I still have love for the guys.”
When asked why a man not listed as a sex offender should be sent under the Julia Tuttle to live with registered sex offenders, the Florida Department of Corrections says that in Big Man’s case, the Florida Parole Commission set all the guidelines of supervision. The Parole Commission, however, denies that it ever instructed anyone to send Big Man under a bridge, and that Big Man’s placement was entirely the decision of the DoC. For his part, Big Man says that he plans to sue both. -- Isaiah Thompson