Sex offenders may soon face tougher laws - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sex offenders may soon face tougher laws

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October 2, 2005

Albany-- The state of Georgia may soon be the toughest when it comes to punishing sex offenders. A proposed bill would significantly increase sentencing and once out of jail, make it harder for offenders to commit a crime again.

Georgia lawmakers hope to soon crack down on the growing list of sex offenders in the state. "There is a big list of sex offenders. Unfortunately, in years past, these were crimes that quite often went underreported," says Christopher Cohilas. Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Cohilas says a good system is currently in place for victims to report, but those ways don't stop offenders.

"A sex offender, that's what they do and unfortunately they can't control themselves," says Cohilas. A proposed bill will attempt to control them as well as the number of years they serve in prison. "The major proposed change is the raising the mandatory minimum from 10 years in prison to 25 years in prison," says Cohilas.

Along with increased mandatory sentences for certain offenders, the bill would also require offenders considered "sexually dangerous predators" to wear lifelong tracking devices. It would also require them to register in the offender database before leaving prison. Cohilas considers the proposed bill a step in the right direction.

"It's certainly representative of some change of our society's views on this. I think we're recognizing that sex offenders are extremely dangerous and they have one of the highest recidivous rates," says Cohilas. Those rates are the highest in the nation compared to other crimes but a new law would help to reduce them. Cohilas says, "It certainly does because they're behind bars."

He hopes to help put as many as he can behind bars. "This is what they do. They're predators and they won't stop unless they're removed from society," says Cohilas. He's banking on new laws to help make those removals a little easier.

The bill would also increase the maximum sentencing to 50 years in prison if a sex crime is committed against a child under 14 years old. Probation would also be eliminated for convicted offenders. The first draft of the bill was recently introduced. Several hearings will be held before a final vote in the next General Assembly session.

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