Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Back to Square One for Sex Offenders

Posted by Maggie on December 11, 2007

The Georgia legislature is modifying their sex offender residency restrictions just as I expected they would. They are carving out a new exception allowing homeowners to remain in their homes if a new facility is built that would require them to move.

A few potential problems. I still see this as a big problem for renters. As any renter knows these days, it’s virtually impossible to get out of a rental agreement for free. I would argue there’s still issues there, although not in the classical takings way. Also, for the die-hard-residency-restriction types, how does this help anything? It’s creating situations where sex offenders will be close to schools or day cares or playgrounds or all those other things they want to keep them away from. It seems to me like a rather large compromise. If they don’t mind letting some of them do it, why are we bothering?

The biggest problem remains the one-size-fits-all approach. The danger of someone who’s committed a misdemeanor sexual battery against another person ever hurting a child is slim to none. People who committed statutory rape twenty years ago? Pretty low. And yet we continue to treat all sex offenders like pedophiles. Worse, I don’t know of any treatment regimes in place to try and better assist or monitor those who may be at risk of re-offending. It seems like a lose-lose situation, and it continues to create mountains of work for local law enforcement and probation officers, which means it’s costing the state more money to do something that seems to have little value and risks losing track of offenders all together.

(Thanks to the Daily Report for this story. I continue my love-hate relationship. They cover some stories that no one else does and often have the most thorough reporting. But the fact that they have weekly golf column is yet another sign of what really bugs me about them. It might as well be called Swank Firm Partner Daily.)

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