Georgia's Sex Offender Law

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Georgia's Sex Offender Law

From today's Washington Post:
As convicted sex offenders go, they seem to pose little danger. One is 100 years old. Another can barely walk and is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease. Another is dying of heart disease in a nursing home.

Yet under a new Georgia law, thousands of registered sex offenders, even the old and feeble, could be pushed from their homes and hospices.

"He doesn't really know anything about it," said Ruby Anderson, 77, whose husband was convicted of having sex with a minor in 1997 and, at 81, no longer recognizes members of his family because of Alzheimer's disease. "The trouble is, I just don't know where we can go."

As states around the country have sought in recent years to control the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, Georgia's law stands out as one of the toughest, a testament to the daunting public fears regarding children's safety.

... "My intent personally is to make it so onerous on those that are convicted of these offenses . . . they will want to move to another state," Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R), who sponsored the bill, told reporters.

Since the law's enactment in July, however, a federal judge, human rights advocates and even some of the sheriff's departments that are supposed to enforce the measure have suggested that the zeal for safety may have gone too far.

The residency law applies not only to sexual predators but to all people registered for sexual crimes, including men and women convicted of having underage consensual sex while in high school.
Even for those who support the Georgia law, I question whether it is much of a deterrent. Under the law, sex offenders are forbidden to live within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, church or school bus stop.

So what? I'm sure that someone who is intent on committing a sex offense will gladly walk or drive 1,001 feet to do it.

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