Miracle Village, Florida. Picture: Supplied
Miracle Village, Florida. Picture: Supplied

The secret sex offender village

FROM the outside, it looks more like a holiday park or a conference centre.

But on the inside, the small white cabins play home to convicted sex offenders, living out a life in isolation from the rest of the world.

Surrounded by greenery, well kept streets and away from normal society, 'Miracle Village' sits just outside Pahokee in Florida.

Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC
Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC

The small homes mean that men and women convicted of child sex crimes can live our their lives, without breaking the laws of coming in to contact with children. The so-called village, as featured on BBC documentary Second Chance Sex Offenders, explores the insides of the village and how the sex offenders live with one another.

In an interview with The Mirror, Sheriff Gordon Smith said offenders "can't live within 2,500ft (762m) of any children congregate, churches and bus stops" and that red signs are put in place warning of a "convicted Sexual Predator" outside the criminals' homes featuring the names of the perpetrators.

Miracle Village, Florida. Picture: Supplied
Miracle Village, Florida. Picture: Supplied

The village, which used to house sugar cane workers, houses around 100 sex offenders.

In 2015, photographer Sofia Valiente spent five weeks living at the village and documenting her time with the residents.

Speaking to Vice at the time, Valiente said not all residents were "monsters".

"Anytime a sex offender is mentioned in the news there is that general fear," she said.

"But after speaking with some of the residents, I saw that they weren't monsters.

"There were some men who had physically molested a minor, although no one in the village was a "diagnosed" paedophile - they don't accept serial rapists, paedophiles, or people that have committed violent crimes."

Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC
Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC

In the documentary, which will air on the BBC later this month, host Stacey Dooley interviews offenders who live within the community. Speaking to resident Chris Dawson, who has lived in the community for four years, the man was convicted after having sex with his girlfriend when she was 14-years-old.

"She lied to me about her age and had fake ID," he said. "I had no idea."

Mr Dawson, who now has a 25-year-old girlfriend who he met at church, said he believed the girl was also 18.

"All her friends believed her so I believed she was 18 too," he said.

"I used to play drums in a band and go on tour and have great friends."

Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC
Miracle Village — town for sex offenders in Florida. Picture: BBC

The founder of the village, Pat Powers, served 12 years behind bars for being involved with his students, and said the community give sex offenders a second chance.

"You can look at my past and say was he one of the top racquet ball coaches in the world or a sex offender," he said.

"I know what I did."


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