Criminal justice

Hundreds arrested for trespassing along Miami train tracks

On any given day in Overtown, dozens of people walk down Northwest 17th Street headed toward a homeless shelter, bus stops or a supermarket on the edge of downtown. But first, pedestrians in this poor Miami neighborhood must cross a railroad track and run the risk of getting arrested.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, an obscure police force run by the Florida East Coast Railway has notched nearly 500 arrests in Miami-Dade County, with the majority being for trespassing at a single crossing used by trains just a few times a week. In contrast, from 2009-2011, they arrested just seven people. Few cases go anywhere, with 85 percent dropped by prosecutors or dismissed by judges. Critics contend they only serve to harass an already marginalized populace and are a drain on the criminal justice system. Related story →

Arrests from 2009 through first six months of 2014

Note The location of four arrests was not known. Two of them were for tresspassing and one was dropped. Sources Miami Herald and WLRN analysis of court records Produced by Kara Dapena