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GA: New bill would bar sex offenders from living near their victims

A new bill in the state Legislature would ban registered sex offenders in Georgia from living within 2,000 feet of their victims or their victims’ immediate family. Full Article

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  1. jmoksha

    What if you married your victim and she wants to live with you? Also, who do you ask if you aren’t on supervision?

    • Worried in Wisconsin

      Just read the bill, and I don’t see anything about having to ask your agent. It just states what the restriction is. I assume that along with the new restriction is a requirement added to SO supervision rules requiring compliance, and that’s possibly where the article got the information. Unfortunately articles like this tend to conflate many different things together, in this case what’s contained in the bill and what seems to be a parole/probation requirement.

      As much as this type of bill only makes things worse, at least there is a grandfather clause and people currently living somewhere won’t have to pack up and move. At least not yet.

  2. Dustin

    Excellent points, jmoksha.

    Plus, though I know it may sound, what exactly is preventing the victim from moving if their assailant moves in nearby?

    Another thing – does it also apply to presumed victims, even if there is no conviction or charges brought? How long before some scumbag DA tries to press that, if (or rather, when, knowing the Georgia legislature) this bill becomes law?

  3. Guy Hamilton-Smith

    I have to think that the problem of people looking to move in near their victims so as to terrorize them is pretty rare, maybe so rare as to be non-existent. But even assuming that’s the case, why not just use already existing legal mechanisms like protection orders instead of passing a law that’s going to create a raft of unintended consequences?

    Also, if someone *is* interested in terrorizing their victim, can they not just walk 2,000 feet? This law won’t solve that problem, and is just going to create more problems for people who are looking to move on with their lives.

    • R M

      @ Guy Hamilton-Smith: EXACTLY! Those (95+%) who seek to commit a sex offense are NOT those previously convicted of such. Those (95+%) who will commit a sex crime do so as close relationship to the victim and any distance is irrelevant.

  4. Dustin

    I sent this email today to the sponsor of that bill and cc’d the rest of the bill’s co-sponsors.

    Senator Jackson,

    I have recently read an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution overviewing Senate Bill 35 (https://www.ajc.com/news/gen-politics/new-bill-would-bar-sex-offenders-from-living-near-their-victims/MpYGaJqiqzURivg3zg8tCJ/), sponsored by yourself, and have a few questions and concerns.

    First, regarding the inspiration for your proposed legislation, was the incident reported and prosecuted? If not, the bill does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to alleviate the circumstance that inspired it, as is common in nearly every law written in response to isolated incidents rather than trends in societal behavior. If so, the matter is best addressed by the individual’s parole/probation officer and local law enforcement, not the legislature.

    Second, is there a basis for the proposed 2000 ft. residence restriction, or was it just a number pulled out of thin air? Or simply double that of existing residence restrictions (also, just pulled out of thin air)? How exactly does the proposed residence restriction prevent registrants intent on harassing their former victims (an extremely low number of individuals, I would think) from doing so? Would they not simply leave their residence, wherever it may be, for that purpose? Wouldn’t a permanent restraining order as part of the sentence (already a routine practice, if not law) accomplish the bill’s intent?

    Third, how does a registrant who is not on parole or probation comply with your proposal? Are the local sheriff’s departments expected to find and locate victims and immediate family members prior to determining whether or not a registrant can move to any particular place? I would think that would be particularly burdensome to most already over-worked law enforcement agencies. Are registrants expected to know the whereabouts of their former victims and immediate family members? How would they find those whereabouts without violating the no-contact order routinely made as part of the sentence? That sounds like forcing registrants to break one law/rule in order to comply with the one you propose, in turn increasing the recidivism this and similar laws were supposedly written to prevent.

    Fourth, who is liable if whatever authority approves a residence in error? Using the bill’s inspiration as an example, the registrant’s parole/probation officer or sheriff’s sex offender unit should have been aware that the registrant’s victim resided nearby (or could have found through reasonable means) and could have disproved the residence prior to the registrant moving there. In such cases, the responsibility for the error entirely belongs to the law enforcement agency. Doesn’t fairness dictate that an errant or delinquent approval authority should bear the burdens of correcting their mistake? What’s fair about forcing the registrant to correct the official’s error or charging him with a crime if he fails to do so? 

    Despite popular opinion to the contrary, recidivism among sex offender registrants is among the lowest of all classes of criminal – second only to those convicted for murder. Over 95% of new sex crimes are committed by individuals without criminal records, a figure relatively unchanged from similar studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice prior to the adoption of Megan’s Law. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of registrant recidivism is not for the commission of new sex crime (or crime of any kind, for that matter), but for violations of the myriad of restrictions and obligations imposed strictly on registrants, few (if any) of which are empirically sound or have any impact on future offenses, such as your proposal. Even rarer are instances of a registrant committing another crime – sexual or otherwise – against the same victim for which they were convicted after release.

    With all due respect to the individual for whom you wrote the bill and all other victims of sex offenses, SB 35, should it become law, will only serve to unnecessarily complicate the lives of registrants and their family members, as well as over-burdening the officials and their budgets tasked with enforcing it, without having any impact whatsoever on the potential recidivism of the aforementioned registrant or the social class to which he belongs. While it is an unfortunate reality that picking on a particular social class of individuals is politically expedient, it is equally true that no person or society as a whole is made safer or more secure by the criminalization of routine activity solely applicable to that particular social class. Such matters can only be effectively remedied on an individual basis.

    Please reconsider your proposal in light of the above. Thanks in advance.

    Suggest flooding the senators’ email boxes. Their addresses can be found here:
    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/SB/35

    • norman

      @Dustin..Thank you for sharing your letter with us. It is very well done and intelligently written. I have copied and will use parts of it when mailing Legislators on various Registrant issues.

      Again Thank You…….

  5. Dustin

    Just read at SOSEN that this bill died in committee. Of note, one senator opined if the proposed penalty was harsher than the original sex offense in some cases. I wonder why that reasoning shouldn’t apply to FTR.

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