Legislators plan new proposal

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ATLANTA --- The General Assembly will try again to restrict where thousands of registered sex offenders can live after the state Supreme Court struck down a law intended to do that, two key Republican lawmakers said .

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, and Rep. David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, chairman of the House committee that handles criminal law, announced their intention Monday in a press conference outside the House chamber.

"Now, we basically have opened the borders and invited them to come to Georgia and live anywhere they want to," Mr. Keen said.

He sponsored legislation in 2006 that added to the list of locations sex offenders had to avoid when choosing a place to live.

The high court struck down that law, which required sex offenders to live at least 1,000 feet away from a school, church, day-care center or other places where children congregate. Justices ruled that forcing a homeowner to leave his property because a day-care center moved in nearby violated the "takings" clause of the U.S. Constitution, which regulates when government can seize property and requires adequate compensation when it does.

The new proposal would allow a registered sex offender who is also a homeowner to continue living in that residence even if a place where children congregate moves in.

Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Danny Craig said Monday that most state prosecutors want clarity on the issue.

"We're awaiting a ruling on the attorney general's motion for reconsideration and clarification," he wrote in an e-mail. "Without clarification, it is not possible to determine the breadth of the Court's opinion. And if the Court's ruling applies only to prevent third parties from displacing a registered sex offender who is in compliance with the statutory restrictions, every prosecutor in Georgia agrees with the constitutional jurisprudence of such ruling."

Mr. Ralston, who will be the lead sponsor on the new legislation, said his committee would hold the first hearings next week and would move to approve the bill once the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

"We're concerned that Georgia, without this, is going to become a dumping ground for these people that we've been trying to protect our children from," Mr. Ralston said.

But critics say Mr. Keen and Mr. Ralston's proposed revision is no better than the original.

"It's extremely likely that the courts would strike this law just as they did the previous one," said Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which has filed a separate federal lawsuit.

She said the legislation doesn't provide for leaseholders, who have many of the same rights as property owners, according to court rulings. She said the new residence restrictions would also still affect Georgians who registered because they had consensual teen sex.

Staff Writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this report.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com

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patriciathomas 12/11/07 - 06:09 am
Great, the pervs have their

Great, the pervs have their own law firm. I wonder how long it will be before the taxpayers will have to start picking up the tab.

zigzag 12/11/07 - 09:25 pm
I'm more worried about being

I'm more worried about being in an airport bathroom stall next to a U.S. Senator! The whole law is stupid.

ZMan 12/14/07 - 04:29 pm
Even forcing anybody to move,

Even forcing anybody to move, without compensation, regardless of if they own a home or not, is still wrong. Many of these people owned homes, and were forced to sell it, now, they are renters because of the law before being shot down. So now, what are they going to do? Many people, who rent, have been forced over and over and over again to move, due to some church or day care opening near by. This is wrong, and unconstitutional, period.


ZMan 12/15/07 - 11:37 pm
If you are a God fearing

If you are a God fearing person, then think about this.

How old were you, or your mother and father when they first had sex? Would they be considered a sex offender today? Would you?

By Gods law, if you have had sex outside of marriage, you are are sex offender.

Wake up! This is just something to distract people from the REAL issues. 90% or more of all sexual crimes are someone in the family, like a mother, father, uncle, etc. So how in the h*ll is anything about these laws going to protect you? They won't, they are just "feel good" legislation. And one day, they will come for you, and wipe out your rights, mark my words on that.

Also, visit my blog, above, and see the insanity for yourselves...

KSL 12/16/07 - 03:50 pm
I have to agree with zman. Go

I have to agree with zman. Go after the real predators, keep them away from children. "Sex offenders" is too wide of a catergory for this legislation. 1000 feet means nothing to a real pervert. Predators from the internet will travel great distances to meet up with their victims.

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