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September 28, 2009

"Homeless Georgia Sex Offenders Directed to Woods"

The title of this post is the headline of this ABCNews report that provides the latest example of some of the real-world consequences of sex offender residency restrictions.  Here is how the piece begins:

A small group of homeless sex offenders have set up camp in a densely wooded area behind a suburban Atlanta office park, directed there by probation officers who say it's a place of last resort for those with nowhere else to go.

Nine sex offenders live in tents surrounding a makeshift fire pit in the trees behind a towering "no trespassing" sign, waiting out their probation sentences as they face numerous living restrictions under one of the nation's toughest sex offender policies.  "It's kind of like a mind-game, it's like 'Survivor,'" said William Hawkins, a 34-year-old who said he was directed to the campsite two weeks ago after being released from prison for violating probation by failing to register as a sex offender in Georgia.

The muddy camp on the outskirts of prosperous Cobb County is an unintended consequence of Georgia law, which bans the state's 16,000 sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks and other spots where children gather.

It's not the only place in Cobb County where offenders can live — there are hundreds of other sex offenders throughout the county living in compliance with the law.  But Ahmed Holt, manager of the state's sex offender administration unit, calls the camp a "last resort" for homeless offenders who can't find another place to live that complies with the law.

He said probation officers direct them to the outpost if other options fail, such as transferring to another county or state or sending them to a relative's place that meets the requirements. Homeless shelters and halfway houses are often not an option, he said, because of the restrictions that bar them from being near children.

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September 28, 2009 at 07:30 PM | Permalink


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And this is why newspapers are going out of business.

How many of those sex offenders living in the woods were convicted of a crime against a child? If people are on the register who are not convicted of a child crime but are prevented from living near a child, that's the real story.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 28, 2009 9:01:11 PM

In all fairness, that's how these sex offender registries were passed. Amazingly, in all the testimony preceding the Adam Walsh Act, Congress couldn't find a single person who would have been helped by a sex offender registry. Those giving testimony were victimized by first-time offenders. Not to mention, Congress seemed to overlook the fact that sexual offenses are the second least-repeated offenses (roughly 4%), with homicide being the first (roughly 2%). If we're already making legal fictions, we might as well go all the way, right?

That being said, people who molest children are more likely to repeat their crime (they actually formed a good bit of the 4%). So, in line with Daniel's (good) implicit suggestion, how's about we forbid those who are actually more likely to molest children from living near children?

Oh, wait--that would be soft on crime...

Posted by: Res ipsa | Sep 29, 2009 8:44:31 AM

And it appears that those sex offenders have now been evicted from the woods...


Posted by: Res ipsa | Sep 30, 2009 1:28:23 PM

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