Sex offender residential restrictions changed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sex offender residential restrictions changed

Updated:

November 25, 2007

Albany -- Registered sex offenders in the state of Georgia were not able to look out their windows and see a daycare or church. But now some can.

"I have four children, and its hard enough not knowing who your neighbors are because no one speaks to each other any more," said Catina Hayes.

The law originally restricted Georgia's registered sex offenders from living 1,000 feet from where children congregated.

If a new church, school or daycare opened in that area, they had to move. The new law prevents offenders from getting evicted.

"When a sex offender has taken the steps to comply with the law, when they have taken up residence in a place that is not prohibited, then they are not going to be ousted by someone moving into town," said Assistant District Attorney, Chris Cohilas. 

On Wednesday, Georgia's top court unanimously ruled that the residency restrictions were unconstitutional.

"The Georgia Supreme Court's reasoning was everybody has constitutional rights. So regardless if someone has convicted of a horrible sex crime, they still have constitutional rights," said Cohilas.

"I do not have sympathy for them. It is not my fault. That's their life that they have done this too. These are children. We are the only ones here to protect them. And its my job as a parent to make sure they are okay," said Hayes.

Parents and businesses are able to look up sex offenders on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation web site.

"I don't think its good enough. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would have overturned that. Just being able to look up at a web site is completely not enough," said Hayes.

But for now that is what parents can do to make sure their new daycare, church, or child's bus stop is free from offenders.

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