Reach, effect still unclear

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AIKEN --- The sheriff's office says most of Aiken County's sex offenders live inside cities.

But whether a proposed ban on where those people can live or work will apply inside those municipal boundaries hasn't been worked out -- and won't be for several weeks.

County council members are poised to consider the latest version of the ban, which might still leave questions about who would have to move and who could stay where they are.

The latest version, tentatively approved by council members at a committee meeting, would grandfather in current sex offenders and wouldn't make them move if a day care or school moves in after they've established residency.

But it doesn't make it clear whether someone living with relatives would be uprooted if he or she does not own the property.

That's one question that will have to be addressed, Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie said.

She said she hadn't thought of that scenario, and "a lot of real bad sex offenders don't marry, and they might be living with Mama."

That should be addressed Tuesday, she said, when the proposed ban goes to the judicial and public safety committee, made up of three county council members.

That committee has to approve the ban before it goes up for a third and final vote by the entire board, but Ms. McKenzie said she doesn't think that will happen until March at the earliest.

She doesn't know when the ban would go into effect, either. The board could set a date for months in the future, she said, or move for immediate enforcement.

Right now, she said, council members want to make sure the restrictions can withstand legal challenges. A Georgia court ruling that struck down part of that state's law prompted the latest tinkering with Aiken County's ban.

The most recent version of the proposed ban would:

- Prevent new sex offenders from working for or living within 1,000 feet of child-care facilities, churches, schools or parks

- Ban them from loitering within 1,000 feet of where minors congregate

- Grandfather in sex offenders already living in the county

- Allow sex offenders to stay if any of those facilities open up after they've bought property

However, sex offenders who are renting might be forced to move once their lease expires.

The effectiveness of the restrictions depends on whether they are enforced inside the cities, which won't happen unless the cities also adopt the law.

Sheriff Michael Hunt has said most of Aiken County's 250 registered sex offenders live inside municipal boundaries. His office handles the registry for all of Aiken County, and he has said he doesn't support enforcing a law that affects only unincorporated areas.

Council members have said such a scenario would likely drive sex offenders into the cities to avoid the ban.

Neither North Augusta or the city of Aiken chose to go along with the county's ban against smoking in most public places, citing the legal challenges such laws face.

The city administrators for both cities said last week that until the county comes up with a final version of the sex offender ban, it won't go before their councils.

"As soon as they get that to us, we'll certainly look at that," Aiken City Administrator Roger LeDuc said.

North Augusta City Administrator Sam Bennett said he expects his council to take up the matter in March at the earliest, but until then, "we're really letting things play out with the county."

Ms. McKenzie said that if the state had better classifications for sex offenders -- separating true molesters from those guilty of minor crimes -- "this would not be an issue."

Too often, she said, someone has to register as a sex offender for life for having sex as a teen with someone slightly younger. She knows of people who have been married to their victim for decades, she said.

"If you're a hard-core sex offender, I have no problem saying you shouldn't even be living near people," she said. "But I do have a problem when it is so minor."

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.

BACKGROUND

After Georgia restricted where sex offenders could live, Aiken County Council members became concerned that the ban would drive offenders across the river into South Carolina.

DEVELOPMENTS:


- Aiken officials began hammering out their own restrictions but stopped when the Georgia Supreme Court struck down part of that state's restrictions as "unlawful taking of property."


- Aiken County Council members have retooled their proposed ban to "grandfather in" current sex offenders and allow them to stay where they are if a facility such as a day care or church opens after they've established residency. But they are concerned that the restrictions would not be enforceable inside the county's cities. City leaders would have to adopt the law for it to be uniform across the county.

BACK STORY

After Georgia restricted where sex offenders could live -- including near school bus stops -- Aiken County council members became concerned that the ban would drive offenders across the river.


To stop that, they began hammering out their own restrictions, but stopped when the Georgia Supreme Court struck down part of that state's restrictions as "unlawful taking of property."


Aiken County council members have since retooled their proposed ban to "grandfather in" current sex offenders and allow them to stay where they are if a facility such as a day care or church opens up after they've established residency.


But they are concerned that the restrictions would not be enforceable inside the county's cities. City leaders would have to adopt the law for it to be uniform across the county.


The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says that 15 percent to 20 percent of the 250 registered sex offenders in Aiken County moved from Georgia after its restrictions took effect.

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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/03/08 - 08:00 am
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I think we need a new system

I think we need a new system to classify sex offenders in terms of the severity of the offense. This is necessay so we can adequately segregate (yes I said segregate) the really bad ones from civilized society FOREVER. Now by segregate I mean we put them say....nowhere within 15 miles of a school,playground or daycare center. Let's add 200 yards from any residence with children. Too harsh? That's the point...I want them to be forced to live in isolated areas where the only human contact they can have is with other child molesters. Let's let them have their own colonies, with a big fence around it..and lets not let them out either. But wait that sounds like jail....ahh you're catching on my friends. If we can't keep them in prison forever, it should be something pretty close to it. I'm not talking about an 18 year having sex with his 15 or 16 year old girlfriend. That's why we need to change the way we classify them. You can count the number of child molesters that actually do their time and get out and turn their life around on an amputees fingers. They are sick beyond repair and I really couldn't care less what rights they THINK they deserve.

Dark_Knight
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Dark_Knight 02/03/08 - 08:06 am
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I agree. Two houses down

I agree. Two houses down from where i live there is a reported sex offender........I dont like that, I've got cats......if that creep lays one finger on my babys... he is in for a world of hurt!

tdp
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tdp 02/03/08 - 08:46 am
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HeWhoMust........You should

HeWhoMust........You should run for office. If the current people who make the laws had half as much sense as you then far less children would become victims. Unfortunately, we have been left to our own devices to protect our children (and cats, Bat Man). I think castration is the answer; even for first time child molestors. You can't molest/rape someone if you don't have the necessary equipment.

christian134
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christian134 02/03/08 - 09:01 am
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Either castrate them or put

Either castrate them or put them all in one place and leave them there for the rest of their lives. Personally I believe letting them live together in one place forever, until death, would be best. The system should have figured out by now that they, perverted scum, cannot or will not be reformed. Once they have offended put them out of commission for good.

tdp
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tdp 02/03/08 - 11:09 am
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Why is that our system does

Why is that our system does not seem to recognize that these people cannot be reformed? Do they seriously think that once they get out they are going to live a clean, crime-free life? Or do they just not care? I don't think change will come until someone important (star/politician) is affected by this. Then all of a sudden it's going to become this pressing, urgent matter that must be addressed and the laws changed.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 02/03/08 - 11:41 am
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The article says most sex

The article says most sex offenders live inside municipalities. So the county government is about to write a law that will drive the rest of them into the municipalities. Then the municipalities will write a tougher law to drive them into the unincorporated areas. Then Michael Hunt will not enforce the law in the unincorporated areas because, "he doesn't support enforcing a law that affects only unincorporated areas." Sounds like a strange poker game. What would be a good name for it? South Carolina Holdem? Residence Stud? Radius Draw?

Willyso
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Willyso 02/03/08 - 05:31 pm
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Acording to the Dept of

Acording to the Dept of Justice only 3.5% of all sex offences are commited by registered sex offenders. So who is responcible for the remainder? Family members, teachers, baby sitters anyone who has regular contact with them. Registered sex offenders are not the problem. Most sex offenders can and do go on to reclaim their lives and lead normal lives, in spite of the ineffective and unconstitutional laws passed by legislators running scared and driven by public hysteria about this issue. The other comments here have demonstrated that the public has a strong emotional response to this issue that is ill-informed and vicious. A little rational thought is required here, not just knee-jerk reactions.

Willyso
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Willyso 02/03/08 - 05:39 pm
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Sex offenders are successfuly

Sex offenders are successfuly treated all the time. They can re-enter society as productive members in spite of the punitive laws passed by law makers that make it more and more difficult for that to happen. Sex offenders have family members and freinds too who must suffer with the offender for these crimes. How about the father and husband who cannot find a job or a place to live. Their wives and kids end up on public welfare and become an additional burden to the tax payers. These laws are insanity!

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/03/08 - 07:28 pm
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Willyso, I'm wondering where

Willyso, I'm wondering where you got your information about sex offenders...I'm guessing the NAMBLA website. But again, I'm talking child molesters, not the broader group labeled sex offendes. That's why I said we should have different classifications. Now...you tell me that most child molesters reform themselves and I'll call you a liar. The number of child molesers that go on to repeat their crimes is practically 100%. You want to talk insanity, your sympathy for these monsters is what's insane. Your heart bleeds for these freaks yet you have no sympathy for the children they take advantage of. You worry about your tax dollars paying for the welfare of the offenders "wives and kids" yet you don't worry about tax dollars spent to "rehabilitate" those that have no desire or ability to be rehabilitated. Take your bleeding heart elsewhere. It is not welcome in the Bible belt. Here we still have a majority of the people that believe in JUSTICE.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/04/08 - 02:03 am
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And why should the suffering

And why should the suffering of the molesters family be my concern when clearly it wasn't in the molesters mind when they were committing their crimes against humanity? Oh but I'm "ill-informed". Typical bleeding heart crap. If I think criminals should be punished..it must be because I'm "ill-informed" or being "irrational". It seems to me that the more man overthinks problems the stupider he gets on common sense issues. Willyso, you sicken and disgust me. Try moving to France where your views are more common. No wait, they are moving in a more conservative direction...try Hell..your kind is always welcome there.

Dark_Knight
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Dark_Knight 02/04/08 - 02:55 am
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named.....

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named........ouch. that was kinda harsh on the kid no? But I understand your point, and stand behind it as well... (though i would never tell anyone to go to hell) However, I dont think Child Molesters, Rapist, and individual who commit crimes such as aggravated sodomy can be reformed.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/04/08 - 03:22 am
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Harsh? Maybe, but those posts

Harsh? Maybe, but those posts by Willyso, are two of the most ridiculous posts I ever read by anyone. That includes Charlieyonce's rantings about Bush planning the Sept 11 attacks. Nothing but good things to say about child molesters. Hmmmm, maybe he's got some special interest in sticking up for them.

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