DeVine Law opposes residence restrictions on sex offenders

Once a person convicted of a crime has been released from jail, prison or a half-way house while on probation or parole, that person should be allowed to live anywhere they can afford, subject only to restrictions concerning proximity to the specific victim(s) of their crime.

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My interest in this subject was piqued by an excellent column by my fellow member of the bar, Bob Barr and his recent “Sex Offender Vagabond” column in the AJC in which he expertly analyzed Georgia’s law that restricts sex offenders from living within 1000 feet from schools and other places children congregate. Even before the 1000 feet applied to bus stops, about the only place those subject to the law could legally live in Georgia is an uninhabited barrier island in the Atlantic.

Barr also graciously got DeVine Law up to speed on Georgia Supreme Court rulings that have limited the scope of the Georgia statute, at least with respect to real estate owned by convicts, but I want to expand on Barr’s following conclusion:

“…passing legislation piling on endless restrictions and burdens on those who already have served prison terms and who remain subject to extensive monitoring, is neither responsible nor effective.”

The idea that these residency restrictions protect children is ridiculous. The best deterrent is a long prison sentence. I would have no problem with a life sentence of sexual offenses accompanied by assaults and batteries of high and aggravated natures.

Barr also rightly identifies a problem with lumping consensual teen sex with adult child molestation, but my objection to the residency restrictions is much broader than this flaw in the law.

Lastly, as a veteran criminal defense attorney that has tried and many sex offense cases, I would remind that these types of cases are among the ones that are most often falsely alleged, and so I do not favor any general, massive increase in penalties (unless the acts are corroborated by physical injuries).

DeVine Law welcomes comments and debate.

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

Originally published @ Examiner.com, where all verification links may be accessed.