State considers sex offender ban

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AIKEN --- Aiken County leaders aren't the only ones thinking of banning sex offenders from living in certain places.

As county council members struggle to finalize their proposed ban -- which would have no effect inside city limits unless municipal leaders opt in -- state legislators are considering their own version.

The proposed state ban has already passed the House of Representatives and is now under consideration in a Senate subcommittee. If it passes, it might trump any county ban.

The state's version would ban sex offenders from moving into a residence within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, parks and playgrounds.

Aiken County leaders have been wrangling over their own version since last summer but have not enacted a ban over concerns that it was too far-reaching, fears of litigation and questions about whether it would apply inside the county's municipal boundaries.

They've recently held talks with municipal leaders about the proposed ban, which would not be enforceable inside their boundaries unless they approved it.

Sheriff Michael Hunt has argued that any restrictions would be ineffective if they were not uniformly enforced throughout the county. Aiken County has about 260 sex offenders, and most of them live inside city limits, he said.

Asked what he thought of the state proposal, Sheriff Hunt replied: "I support any bill to protect our children. At the same time, I encourage lawmakers to adopt a measure that law enforcement realistically can enforce."

Other council members have expressed concerns that if the cities don't adopt the restrictions, then sex offenders would move inside the boundaries.

County Attorney Jim Holly said that he does not yet know if the proposed state law, if passed, would supersede local law.

There can be state and local laws on the same subject, he said, but he'd have to research the matter before knowing for sure whether South Carolina's proposed ban would pre-empt Aiken County's.

Councilwoman Lawana McKenzie, who's been one of the driving forces behind the Aiken County proposal, said she is happy the state is taking up the matter -- even if it makes their ban moot. She said the county is still sending city leaders their proposed restrictions, but anticipates halting their efforts if it becomes clear the state is taking the lead on the issue.

The bill that has made it to the Senate -- there were initially others proposed at the state level -- is comparable to what the county was considering, which was being tweaked even as late as Tuesday night by the county attorney.

"Those sound very familiar," she said. "If the state covers it, I would hope the county backs off."

But she said that does not mean the county couldn't pass a law that complements the state's version by adding provisions legislators didn't include.

Bottom line, she said, "We want to make sure we're in compliance."

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

HOW THEY COMPARE

GEORGIA


What are the distance restrictions? 1,000 feet


What can't they live near? Schools, churches and everywhere children gather.


Are there any working restrictions? Yes. Sex offenders can't work for day cares, schools or churches or for any business within 1,000 feet of those facilities.


What are the penalties for violating the law? Violators could be found guilty of a felony and punished with a minimum of 10 years in prison, but no more than 30.


Which sex offenders are included in the ban? Anyone who must register as a sex offender in Georgia.


Is there a grandfather provision? No, but part of the Georgia law was overturned by the state Supreme Court as an unlawful taking of property because homeowners were required to move as part of the ban.




SOUTH CAROLINA


What are the distance restrictions? 1,000 feet


What can't they live near? Schools, day cares, kids' recreation centers, parks, playgrounds


Are there any working restrictions? No


What are the penalties for violating the law? The first and second offenses are misdemeanors (jail and fine), and the third offense is a felony (up to five years in jail and fine).


Which sex offenders are included in the ban? Only those convicted sexually assaulting children or kidnapping a person under 18.


Is there a grandfather provision? Offenders who have established residency before the law goes into effect can stay, even if a facility opens after they've moved in. Newly convicted offenders who own property won't have to move post-conviction either, regardless if he or she was arrested after the law goes on the books.




AIKEN COUNTY


What are the distance restrictions? 1,000 feet


What can't they live near? Day cares, churches, schools, parks


Are there any working restrictions? Yes. County's proposal would ban sex offenders from working for any of those same facilities.


What are the penalties for violating the law? Penalties are not clear.


Which sex offenders are included in the ban? Anyone who must register as a sex offender in South Carolina.


Is there a grandfather provision? Yes. Property owners won't have to move. They also won't have to move if one of those facilities opens up after they've moved in. Renters, however, would have to move once their lease is up.

Comments (20) Add comment
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christian134
1
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christian134 03/20/08 - 04:13 am
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0
It is a shame that these sex

It is a shame that these sex offenders do not come with signs on their forehead. It would certainly make it easier to spot them as they seem to come in all shapes, sizes, colors, rich and poor. Most of the time they are the boy or girl next door type, all charm but full of evil intentions. Working restrictions as well as openly revealing who they are will go a long way in stemming the tide of evil in our communities. This is not a blanket satement as there are some that are falsely accused or other circumstances. I am speaking of the evils against the ones that have no say in what is done to them.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 03/20/08 - 05:34 am
0
0
Once again, dealing with the

Once again, dealing with the sex offender is a problem. Trying to handle the situation the same old way will fail as it has every other time. America knows how to handle the situation. They've done it before with the American Indian. Give sex offenders a reservation they can live on. Any time they wander off the reservation, they're fair game for anyone, just like any other vermin. San Francisco seems a natural. No one would even notice. Concerned parents could keep their children out of town. The entire nation could send their sex offenders there and the police force could be expanded to deal with the potential increase in problems. The federal government could foot the bill for police since the city would become the sex offender reservation. Each sex crime would be assigned a "severity number" related to the danger to society. If you're ever sent to the reservation, it's a life sentence.

naugliberal
0
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naugliberal 03/20/08 - 06:04 am
0
0
We all know how well it

We all know how well it worked with the American Indian. Your lame attempt to equate sex offenders with San Francisco is just that. Lame.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/20/08 - 06:17 am
0
0
Sorry for the confusion,

Sorry for the confusion, naugliberal, I thought I'd typed slow enough for most to follow.

naugliberal
0
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naugliberal 03/20/08 - 06:27 am
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0
I followed it very well.

I followed it very well.

im2kraz
0
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im2kraz 03/20/08 - 06:45 am
0
0
I don't usually weigh in on

I don't usually weigh in on these issues. I agree with limits on certain types of "sex offenders" having restrictions. What about those offenses listed as "sex offenses" that are not (i.e. public urination, romeo and juliet offenses, etc.) You can get a DUI and vehicular homicide and still be allowed to drink. You can be convicted of murder and still live in the community. If you start passing laws about where "offenders" can live or not live, next they will be passing laws stating that if you are overweight, you can't live next to a grocery store. I am not disagreeing with protecting children from predators, just with the notion that we as citizens are allowing government to impose generic restrictions when there should be specifics. Be careful what you wish for you just might get it.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/20/08 - 06:47 am
0
0
The sex offender law is easy

The sex offender law is easy enough to understand. What has not been addressed is the following: Sex offender lives at 10 Main street, a family with young children moves in 14 Main street, does the sex offender have to move? Is the family with children notified before moving there? If so who notifies them?

im2kraz
0
Points
im2kraz 03/20/08 - 06:58 am
0
0
In Georgia, the offender is

In Georgia, the offender is required to move if this situation occurs. The law MUST be specific. The term "sex offender" is used for a variety of offenses; not just for child molestation, rape or violent offenses. It would be advisable for folks to educate themselves about the term and the law.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 03/20/08 - 07:34 am
0
0
Sex offender needs to be

Sex offender needs to be defined in more detail, eliminating the statutory rape offenders and other crimes that should not be grouped with people that molested or raped their victims. Hang a big red flashing light around their neck so we will know them. I read somewhere that 47% of these sexual criminals repeat their crimes. While it is far-fetched, I do think PT's solution has merit!!

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 03/20/08 - 07:47 am
0
0
I think that every sex

I think that every sex offender, especially ones who have raped, or who have been a child molester should be strapped with an ankle monitor for the rest of their lives....they will never be reformed and they will continue to commit these crimes.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/20/08 - 08:03 am
0
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The reason I feel each case

The reason I feel each case should be given a "social offense" number is to determine if the offender should fall under the "sex offense restrictions". Public urination shouldn't carry the same restrictions as homosexual rape. An 18 year old dating daddy's little 16 year old shouldn't be as restricted as someone that attacks an elderly woman in her home. One size fits all doesn't make any sense for the giant umbrella called "sexual offender". Categorize each offense and punish it appropriately. Send the incurable offenders to a reservation and shoot them if they wander off. Concerned citizens could bid on the 'reservation watch' licenses and money could be raised from those that wish to shoot a wandering perv.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/20/08 - 08:08 am
0
0
naugliberal, I think the

naugliberal, I think the confusion came when I didn't specify that I consider gross sexual perversion offensive. Since San Francisco celebrates sexual perversion, I thought that would be a nice place to designate as the sexual perversion reservation. No offense intended. It just seems like the logical choice, IMHO.

Tall1
1
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Tall1 03/20/08 - 08:27 am
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When did it become the United

When did it become the United States Government's job to parent children? PARENTS protect children from others. Been that way for thousands of years. My friend is a great parent. He noticed his 5yr old son had been acting strangely. He researched and learned that his son was being "groomed" by a 16yr old girl. He terminated the relationship and made sure to prevent further interaction. No gov't intervention. Quit chasing the Escalade,HDTV,Rolex,McMansions, etc and raise your damn children to protect themselves. "Sex offender residency laws" are just another example of people having way too much time and way too long of a nose. (The author of this post in no way endorses the actions of those who would prey upon children)

mable8
2
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mable8 03/20/08 - 09:42 am
0
0
GA is having no greater

GA is having no greater success with their sex offender ban than any other State that has one; SC will find the same problem in enforcing it. The idea that the offender must move if a family with chldren moves in or a new school has been built near the residence of a sex offender has been challenged. You really need to look at what a ban means; you are also responsible as a parent to educacte AND protect YOUR children. I do not condone what these offenders do; most are predatory, but not all (two 16 year olds having a sexual relation does not make the male a predator, but he is branded for life--what about the girl in this affair????). If the law will SPECIFICALLY say: serial rapists, rapists, pedophile, child molester, then I think you have a better law.

SunDown
2
Points
SunDown 03/20/08 - 01:15 pm
0
0
These sex offender laws

These sex offender laws (where they can and can not live) are stupid. If these sickos are so dangerous then why let them out of prison in the first place?

tdp
0
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tdp 03/20/08 - 02:57 pm
0
0
Tall1.....I hate to tell you

Tall1.....I hate to tell you this, but oftentimes a sexual offender will go into a sleeping child's bedroom, take them, sexually assault them, and often kill them. Ever heard of Jessica Lunsford or Polly Klaus? While I agree that the parents are the FIRST line of defense, there is no way on earth you can protect your child from a scenario like this. Also, what about trusted adults like teachers, camp counselors, boy scout leaders, etc. who abuse children. I agree w/ Patricia Thomas. Put the SOB's on their own island & let them molest each other! They cannt be rehabilitated, our children should not have to live in danger, and society as a whole should not have to live in fear of these sick individuals.

gemini62882
0
Points
gemini62882 03/20/08 - 08:15 pm
0
0
I think that sex offenders

I think that sex offenders should be requred to put a sign up in their yard that says that they are sex offenders. I mean who really knows who's a sex offender and who could be one. Society should really care more about protecting the children instead of the offenders.

CINDYLOUWHO
0
Points
CINDYLOUWHO 03/21/08 - 10:34 am
0
0
Ia gree with some of you on

Ia gree with some of you on this issue. Especially when it comes to teens having sex. They know what they are doing and now days it's hard to tll a 14 or 15 year old from a 20 something year old woman. If someone gets out of jail after hurtig a child then it's probably because they know that if they are good in prison then they can get out jsut to prey on other children. I don't think that they can be rehabilitated either. I think that it is still the job of parents to pay attention to their children. when a child is being abused there are signs you just have to be smart enough to notice them.

Willyso
0
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Willyso 03/21/08 - 03:47 pm
0
0
Sundown: These sex offender

Sundown: These sex offender laws (where they can and can not live) are stupid. If these sickos are so dangerous then why let them out of prison in the first place?

My humble response:

Why? Because we are a nation of laws not men, not emotions. In America we have due process that every citizen is entitled to. If you dont like it here in America you might consider moving to Iran where the government has the ability to detain anyone they don't like.

Willyso
0
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Willyso 03/21/08 - 03:56 pm
0
0
There are a very small number

There are a very small number of dangerous people out there. There always have been, and always will be. Those who repeat their crimes should be monitored by law enforcement. But most of the names on the sex offence registry are of those who have committed one crime and most of them are minor such as being a teen-ager and having consentual sex with another teen. These low level offenders are branded with the same scarlet letter that is earned, rightfully, by the small number of serious offenders. Let's make smart laws that really protect kids. The ones we have do not protect anyone, and only make matters worse for their safety.

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