(WSVN) - They are society’s banished, and once again, sex offenders in Miami-Dade County have set up a makeshift camp. Some say their poor living conditions pose a threat to the community. 7’s Nicole Linsalata has more in tonight’s 7News investigation.

On any given night, a group of 50 or more registered sex offenders call these railroad tracks in Northwest Miami-Dade home.

Tom, sex offender: “I was sentenced to 84 months in prison, and got sentenced to a 30-year probation.”

They stash their belongings where they can and sleep out in the open.

Greg, sex offender: “2008. Made a mistake on the computer. This is life now.”

They’re here because of a Miami-Dade County ordinance which says sex offenders cannot live within 2,500 feet of a school or places where children gather. Most can’t afford housing in approved areas, so their probation officers send them here.

Greg: “You don’t have a place to shower. You don’t have a place to use the restroom.”

County officials have been plagued by the roaming camps for years. Every time one camp is cleared, another one pops up.

Tom: “Herded up like a bunch of cattle.”

The American Civil Liberties Union says the ordinance pushes sex offenders into homelessness, putting them and the community at risk.

Nancy Abudu, ACLU Lawyer: “If someone comes out, they have a job, they have a stable place to live, the likelihood that they’re going to re-offend drops down significantly.”

The ACLU of Florida filed a lawsuit challenging the restrictions, but the case was dismissed. The ACLU is appealing.

Ron Book: “I don’t support homelessness. But the restrictions didn’t create the problem; their sexually deviant behaviors created the problem.”

Ron Book wrote the ordinance after his daughter was sexually abused by her nanny. Book is chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. He says relaxing the current restrictions is not the answer.

Ron Book: “We should have a policy to provide some form of affordable housing that is built away from the general population so they can be better monitored and they can look after themselves.”

But such a facility could be years away. So, for now, these offenders call the railroad tracks home.

Greg: “You take one step forward and 50 steps backwards.”

Hoping the ACLU and Miami-Dade County can find a way to get them off the streets for good.

The ACLU hopes to make oral arguments in their appeal soon.

If you think there’s something 7News should investigate, give us a call at 305-627-CLUE or 954-921-CLUE. You may also send an e-mail to clue@wsvn.com.

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