Both Restore Georgia and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to follow the Senate Study Committee on Protections from Sexually Dangerous Predators recommendation to allow judicial discretion when sentencing someone for a second sexual offense.
We asked the Committee TWICE to make these changes. A vote was taken in committee and our request was denied.
Therefore, Restore Georgia urges you to contact your Senator asking them to VOTE NO on HB 194.
What HB194 will do
Upon the conviction of a 2nd sexual offense, this bill will require a judge to sentence the defendant to LIFE in prison or a minimum of 1 year in prison with probation and electronic monitoring for life.
Electronic monitoring fees must be paid at the expense of the probationer.
No factor is taken into consideration at sentencing other than whether or not the offense qualifies for the mandatory sentence.
Once on probation, after 10 years have passed, the Department of Community Supervision is required to order that the individual be removed from probation provided that the individual has lived a law abiding life and has not been classified as a Sexually Dangerous Predator by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board.
In cases of Sexual Exploitation of Children (electronic viewing of child pornography), each individual image will be counted as a new charge which carries a mandatory minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment. Currently all images are combined and charged as one count.
This bill would also rename the Sex Offender Registration Review Board to the Sex Offender Risk Review Board.
Why HB194 Exists
Until 2019, someone classified as a Sexually Dangerous Predator by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB) was required to wear an ankle monitor for life.
In 2003 Joseph Park was convicted of child molestation and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with 8 to serve. Upon his release from custody in 2011, SORRB classified Park as a Sexually Dangerous Predator which required him to wear an ankle monitor for life. Park sought a judicial review of this classification, but the decision was upheld.
In 2016, after Park had completed his sentence, he was arrested and indicted for tampering with his ankle monitor. He argued that he could not be prosecuted for this because the statute violated his 4th Amendment rights.
In 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed with Park and ruled that requiring electronic monitoring of someone after the completion of their sentence was unconstitutional.
Today, someone classified as a Sexually Dangerous Predator by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board is not subject to electronic monitoring once they have completed their sentence.
Problems with this bill
- In 2019, the Senate convened a Study Committee on Protections from Dangerous Sexual Predators. The committee recommended legislative action to give judges discretion to include lifetime GPS ankle monitoring in a sexual offender’s actual sentence by having the levelling information from the SORRB available at the time of sentencing. This bill does not include any of these recommendations.
- It removes Judicial Discretion. When someone is sentenced for a second sexual offense, the Judge will only have two options: LIFE in PRISON or Life on Probation WITH electronic monitoring.
- TWO Strikes and You’re Out. If the Judge decides to impose a LIFE Prison Sentence, it will be 30 years before that person is eligible for parole.
- Probationer will have to pay for their freedom. Electronic monitoring costs $1,127.85 per person per year. This bill would require the probationer to pay the monitoring fee or face revocation to PRISON for LIFE.
- Judges would be REQUIRED to impose LIFETIME ankle monitoring on nearly EVERYONE convicted of a 2nd offense, not just Tier 3.
- It would impose a TWO STRIKE penalty for all risk classifications, not just the highest tier.
- When the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB) assigns a Sexually Dangerous Predator classification, clinical evaluators consider multiple factors, not just criminal history.
- One size fits all solutions like HB 194 have the potential to impact individuals that may have exercised poor judgement and not criminal intent. This bill would take away a Judge’s discretion in those instances.
- Aggravated assault with the intent to rape
- Kidnapping involving a victim under 14 years of age, except by a parent
- Labor or sex trafficking
- Felony aggravated sodomy
- Felony statutory rape when the person convicted is 21 or older
- Felony child molestation or aggravated child molestation [2 separate offenses]
- Felony enticing a child for indecent purposes (commonly used in “To Catch a Predator” style police stings)
- Felony improper sexual contact by employee, agent, or foster parent in the first degree
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Felony sexual exploitation of children (viewing child pornography)
Research and Analysis
This bill is designed to protect Georgia from Sexually Dangerous Predators. Of the 23,510 people on Georgia’s registry, 898 (3.7%) are classified as a Sexually Dangerous Predator and would have previously been placed on electronic monitoring for life. Of those 898, 40% are currently incarcerated. This bill exists because its sponsor incorrectly believes that registrants classified as Sexually Dangerous Predators are actively committing new offenses and are not being caught because they do not have electronic monitoring in place.
Research indicates that approximately 5% of adult sex offenders commit new sexual offenses over time* as compared to the national recidivism of 43%.