ViewPoint: Sex offender laws

Georgia lawmakers are going back to the drawing board to work on a new sex offender law.  They promise to get it right this time, and we hope they do.

The law they passed early this year put the toughest residency restrictions in the country on sex offenders here. 

It said offenders couldn't live or work within one thousand feet of any place where children gather.  Even many sheriffs said this would just drive offenders underground and make it harder to keep up with them.  Supporters openly said they wanted to drive every sex offender out of the state. 

Only one problem: the State Supreme Court just ruled that's unconstitutional.

Lawmakers should consult with District Attorneys and law enforcement before passing laws like this to anticipate issues and problems.  This law was passed in an election year to look tough on crime. Lawmakers need to quit pandering to what they think the public wants to hear and actually do the things that are in the publics best interest. 

They also love to pass "tough" laws without allocating resources to enforce them.  Money to ensure compliance and to prosecute these violations was no where in the budget.  In fact prosecutors avoided layoffs last year due to the Chief Justice declaring a Judicial State of Emergency and the Governor tapping the State reserves. 

We appreciate the General Assembly's desire to protect children.  We all agree that child predators deserve no mercy.  Other sex offenders should have to abide by some residency restrictions as well. 

During the upcoming General Assembly session, we urge them to use a little common sense and come up with a sex offender law that's actually legal and one that will do what it's supposed to-- protect the children of Georgia.