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June 30, 2008

Georgia Supreme Court examines banishment punishment

As detailed in this AP article, headlined "Ga. court upholds partial banishment for offenders," the Georgia Supreme Court in this decision today discusses at some length the constitutionality under state precedents of an offender subject to this sentence:

“The Defendant is banished from every county in the State of Georgia except Toombs County. If he is seen in the State of Georgia, other than in Toombs County, during the term of this Sentence it would be a violation of his parole and probation.”

UPDATE:  After a review of the extreme facts and relatively measured holding in this case, I find the Georgia high court ruling more reasonable than it may at first sound.

June 30, 2008 at 04:50 PM | Permalink


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Whoa! Georgia has some pretty ridiculous laws that I can't tell you that I don't appreciate. I don't think this will hold water if reviewed by the Court if it wasn't an option to the defendant.

Posted by: Ange | Jun 30, 2008 9:06:57 PM

So how is the Toombs County Sheriff supposed to enforce this banishment?

Banishment when it was used was reserved for nobility and wealthy persons with influential relatives (the slaves and low class folks were executed). All adult males were obliged to kill the person if they returned from banishment. If a stranger turned up and they did not have valid letters of introduction it was assumed they had been banished and they were killed or run off.

Posted by: John Neff | Jun 30, 2008 9:36:23 PM

Toombs county is landlocked, not on the state line, and lacks a major airport - by which I mean it MIGHT have an airstrip.

Posted by: Gray Proctor | Jul 1, 2008 11:46:43 AM

While the opinion does sound more reasonable than the quick glance might lead one to believe, I still think that the dissent is right given the specific prohibition of the Georgia Constituion prohibiting whipping and banishment from the state (interesting to have that in their Constitution!). To send a person from the Atlanta area to a very poor rural county (information here http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13279.html ) where they might reside does seem to operate as a specific banishment from the entire state. While one could argue that banishment might be appropriate in such a case as this, the specific prohibition of it in the state Constitution would preclude that option.

It also seems that apparently Georgia judges have done that type of thing before (especially in the Atlanta area) thus leading the legislature to act to prevent dumping people from Atlanta to the most rural, poor counties in the state (too late for this guy apparently).

One figures that Toombs County probably isn't thrilled with this arrangement either.

Posted by: Zack | Jul 1, 2008 1:52:28 PM

This is one of those cases where 'constitutional' does not mean 'wise'. The banishment is a condition of probation which, by the ordinary meaning of the term, means one's period of direct punishment if over. As such, the court's concern for the protection of the victim should have been weighed against society's interest in rehabilitation, especially after a 20 year sentence. Limiting this man's opportunities in life to one poor rural county does not bode well for a positive rehabilitation outcome and seems instead designed to encourage further criminal offenses.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 1, 2008 5:20:18 PM

I have a couple of questions. My boyfriend is a registered sex offender for an offense committed when he was 16 years old. He was placed by the state into a foster home and later adopted by parents which one of them was a child molestor. The state did not know this at the time and later the man was arrested and has since been released. My boyfriend at the age of 16 made a very stupid mistake with a younger foster child. He was sentenced to 20 serve 5 so 15 years probation PLUS a 20 year probation sentence to run back to back. He went to prison for 5 years and was beat, stabbed, raped and treated horribly. He has been on probation for almost 2 years. He has to take a polygraph every 6 months. We hired an attorney to take the case and to file for modification of sentence so he could be around my children and we could have a true relationship. We filed this modification in October of 2008. We spoke with his P.O. and his treatment provider and the D.A. They backed him and told him that were on his side. We waited and waited. Went to court 3 times and the 4th time we were scheduled for court, but did not know because our attorney failed to send us a letter for court. He was elected judge and took seat in January. We were placed with another attorney that took his time with everything. My boyfriend was scheduled for another polygraph a "special" polygraph to make sure he was not harming my children. I know beyond a shadow that he would never harm my children nor would I ever place my children in harms way. We dated for over a year before he ever met my kids. We made a stupid decision and jumped the gun. He came over to my house when my kids were here. When he took his last polygraph he was so nervous because they told him that this was specilized just for him. They had to deem the test unreliable because he was so nervous. He took another test 1 week later and passed the test. Proving that nothing had been done to me or my children, but he had been in their presence. He was told by his P.O. that he would issue a warrant for violation of probation. He was arrested last week. We have the best criminal attorney in the area. We also have the person that placed the original complaint and the "victim" behind us. They are writting letters and may sign an affidavit. I am nervous and worried about him. We do not have a court date as of yet, but I want to know what he is facing. I have talked to his P.O. and he said he was going to ask for 3 to 6 months in a dentention center (county jail) but the judge could make it up to 2 years. My attorney says not to be filled with false hope from P.O.'s becuase they say one thing and then turn it around when they get to court. I know we jumped the gun and should have waited, but we thought everything was going in the right direction. We want to get married and be able to live a good life, but now we don't know what is going to happen. My boyfriend is the most kind gentle person I have ever met. He treats me better then anyone in my life! I know him better then anyone and know that he is not the same scared little boy that he use to be. He has followed every rule pertaining to treatment, probation fees and check ins, his address, work and registration with the state he lives in and the state he works in. He does not drink, do drugs, or hang out in places he should not be. We do not go to club or bars! We live a relativley quite life. He is not behind on any fees and he always communicates with his P.O. Please does anyone have any advice for me??? Has anyone gone through this before?

Posted by: Erin | Mar 10, 2009 8:32:23 PM

Every State and the Federal government have banishment laws on the books; some use banishment sparingly and others are more prolific. Most States, including GA, do NOT banish a person to another State, but CA does (in recent years, they banished a criminal from the entire State, provided the offender with a one-way ticket to FL, where he promptly murdered an individual). Banishment has already been reviewed by the US Supreme Court and it is found that the laws are NOT unconstitutional as they are currently written. The use of banishment has been around since God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, so it is not a new punishment. In some respects, banishment can be a constructive form of punishment; in others, it could be an abused form of punishment...and that would be for the courts to decide.

Posted by: CJM | Apr 20, 2011 4:02:41 PM

is there any way to get a banishment lifted in Georgia. my fiance is currently banished from the county that me, his mother and kids live here. can anyone provide any info?

Posted by: rhonda | Aug 1, 2012 5:34:55 PM

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