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April 6, 2008

Georgia legislature passes revised sex offender residency restrictions

As detailed in posts here and here, last year the Georgia Supreme Court struck down part of the state's sex offender residency restriction on a takings theory.  Now, as detailed in local stories here and here, the state legislature has tried to fix the law.  However, as this excerpt spotlights, this legislative fix may not end the constitutional litigation over these matters:

The Georgia General Assembly has passed legislation reinstating residency and work restrictions on registered sex offenders.  The restrictions were voted on Friday without going through the typical Senate committee process, and without hearings on the Senate side....

Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson ... stated that the bill addressed the Georgia Supreme Court's concerns about property rights.  However, the bill only exempts sex offenders who own their own homes.  In that case, the sex offenders can remain in their homes if a day-care center, church, park, or other forbidden area locates within 1,000 feet of the home.

Tenancy is a property right, by law, said Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta.  He is concerned that the bill does not provide protection for renters. "There could be further legal challenges," Johnson said....  "We can continue to address some things in the future," Johnson said.  But, "if we do not adopt this bill today, there are no restrictions on where they can live and work.  It is critical that we now adopt 908, which is now in SB 1."...

"On its face, it's unconstitutional," said Sen. Nan Orrock (Email), D-Atlanta. "There is different treatment of homeowners and those who rent.  We're already in murky constitutional ground."  Then, there are the unintended consequences, she said. "With sexual offenders who have served their time and who are back in the community, our highest priority is that they not re-offend and prey on another victim," Orrock said.  But putting in the residency restrictions "set in motion this moving around of former sex offenders."  Studies show, clearly, she said, that sex offenders who have to move from a stable home or job are more likely to re-offend....

The restrictions are exactly the same as the ones implemented in 2006. In almost every case, all registered sex offenders are treated equally, regardless of whether they were convicted of child rape or public urination.  No sex offender may live within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, church, school, or "area where minors congregate."  Those areas are defined as: parks, recreation facilities, playgrounds, skating rinks, neighborhood centers, gymnasiums, school bus stops, public libraries and public and community swimming pools. Adding libraries is the only change to that definition.

Some related posts on sex offender residency restrictions:

April 6, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink

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Comments

How on earth is public urination a sex offense requiring registration? Good grief! Assuming that it was for purposes of elimination, not exhibitionism, there is no way it should be a sex offense. Have the legislators never been on a hike, or even a long walk? Have they never played a long game of soccer at a field where there are no public restrooms? Have they never gotten lost on foot after dark? Have they never rushed to the public lavratory, only to discover that it was not working? Have they never been at a large outdoor college party?

Posted by: William Jockusch | Apr 6, 2008 5:00:05 PM

Another thought just occurred to me. Draconian punishments (and sex offender registration is a draconian punishment, regardless of whether our courts have yet recognized that or not) for minor offenses (and if public urination isn't a minor offense, I don't know what is) are a common feature of totalitarian society. Typically, the punishment in practice is usually not applied, unless one has for some reason displeased the Powers That Be, in which case it is applied. This technique is right up there with press censorship as a routine tool of unsavory regimes. Putin had Khordokovsky arrested for "tax evasion" and Kasparov for "extremism". But in both cases, their real crime was that they were his political opponents.

Supposedly, our Constitution exists to prevent such abuses. Perhaps one of the many lawyers around here can comment on the constitutionality of sex offender registration stemming from public urination. Cruel and unusual punishment? Equal protection?

The whole thing shocks the conscience.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Apr 6, 2008 5:19:19 PM

If a sex offender is that dangereous they need to be in jail. Period. Stupid law. They still didn't learn. No distinction between different types od convictions. Stupid.

Posted by: J Mann | Apr 17, 2008 5:43:44 PM

What is not in the above article is the addition of "volunteer." Certainly it is government making a law prohibiting the free exercise of one's religion.

Posted by: M. Coward | Apr 18, 2008 10:17:04 PM

This is another knee jerk responce from the legislature in GA. There is from the "US" government verifiable proof that this is the wrose thing to do. Most offenders do NOT repeat where other criminald DO! In a report put out by the FBI. Also most States also reported last year that the sex offender was the "least" likely to reoffend of all criminals through the US. But they want your vote next Nov. so they feel that although they know the law is "uncontitional" you will be afraid and SOOOOOO appreciative of them doing this that you will vote for them. By the way "most" sex offenders offend their own children or step children so much for the law. Plus even the ones that offend other children they "seldom" are near those because of fear of being recognized. So it is ENTIRELY a bogus law.

Posted by: Calvin | May 9, 2008 1:14:05 PM

I too am bewildered by public urination being designated as a sex offense. Like some of my fellow commenters here, I can appreciate the difference between wanton lewdness and a discreet effort to evacuate one's bladder.

Furthermore, if I make an effort for an emergency urination away from observers, say heading into the bush and am followed by a suspicious policeman who witnesses my 'misdeed'. Is he then a perverted peeping tom who may be prosecuted as a sex offender? It's all quite bizarre!

Posted by: Brendan Fevola - Public Urinator | May 21, 2009 11:51:04 PM

So many laws not enough people to enforce them and too many people are using the laws fr their own gain.

Posted by: Jay Pilli | Jan 4, 2010 11:47:55 AM

i am searcing to find out in the state of georgia what is the mandatory sentence for a sex offender that doesnt register? thank you

Posted by: leigh | Feb 20, 2010 2:44:41 PM

This is a tough one for me. I know there should be consequences in life, yet this does seem a little harsh and very restrictive.

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Posted by: Ronald loves Jordan Shoes | Aug 6, 2010 9:47:43 AM

Adding libraries is the only change to that definition.

Posted by: sentecing | Sep 24, 2010 5:01:15 AM

there are no restrictions on where they can live and work. It is critical that we now adopt 908, which is now in SB 1."...

Posted by: cna training class | Sep 25, 2010 9:44:35 AM

He is concerned that the bill does not provide protection for renters. "There could be further legal challenges," Johnson said...

Posted by: phlebotomy certification | Sep 28, 2010 10:38:58 AM

the state of georgia what is the mandatory sentence for a sex offender that doesnt register? thank you

Posted by: online degrees | Oct 10, 2010 1:45:58 PM

What changes have been introduced in the law for these sex offenders.
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Posted by: Amber | Jan 14, 2011 8:37:31 AM

I just had a long conversation concerning this with one of my friends. We chatted at length about it. I wish I’d look at this write-up because doing so gave me a different perspective. I could have been more prepared. Many thanks for that fantastic write-up!

Posted by: CNA Classes | Mar 5, 2011 2:27:14 PM

These sex offender restrictions should have been put in place a long time ago. Glad this is finally the case

Posted by: Phlebotomy Training | Mar 9, 2011 10:20:54 AM

I wish this would happen all over the worls, in the UK legislations are slack.

Posted by: tankless toilets | Apr 15, 2011 9:09:47 AM

I think as long as they stay in their homes it is ok. If they really were out to commit a repeat offense, having a daycare or school 1000 feet a way or 20 miles away would make no difference. They would do it anyway.

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Posted by: silicone jelly watch | Oct 18, 2011 3:45:12 AM

99% of GA sex offenders who fail to register are punished with probation only. The law sounds tough but there are so many offenders being arrested for not registering that most judges and DA's simply offer probation and maybe a few weeks in a county jail.

Unless the sex offender is still on parole for the original offense, an arrest for the new violation of failure to register, isnt really a big deal.

The law sounds tough....it really isnt.

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