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.
Problems with this bill
- Rep. Sainz said in committee that his bill would protect Georgians from 53 people that completed probation and went on to commit another sexual offense.
Out of nearly 24,000 people on the registry, 53 people reoffended with a second sexual offense. That is a recidivism rate of 0.2%
- Electronic monitoring costs $1,127.85 per person per year. The Department of Community Supervision (DCS) currently pays the cost of electronic monitoring their probationers but HB194 would shift those costs to the person on probation. If this fee is not paid, a probationer could face life imprisonment.
- Judges would be REQUIRED to impose LIFETIME ankle monitoring on nearly EVERYONE convicted of a 2nd offense, not just Tier 3.
- Supervised registrants who are classified as Sexually Dangerous Predators already must wear ankle monitors for the duration of their probation which can be 10 or more years.
- 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.
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%.
HB 194 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
HB 194 Vote by the House of Representatives
HB 194 Committee Hearing
HB 194 Subcommittee Hearing
Currently in Georgia there is a pathway for someone on the State’s Sex Offender Registry to petition a court for removal from either the registry or relief from 1,000 foot living and working restrictions provided that:
Ten years have elapsed since the individual completed all prison and supervised release
The individual has been classified by the board as a Level I (low) risk assessment.
Why this bill is bad for Georgia
This bill further punishes individuals who are classified by clinical investigators as the lowest risk (Level 1) of recidivism by changing the OR to an AND, requiring a 10-year waiting period to petition a court for relief for no other reason than uneducated fear. No other classification of crime is subject to an in-depth analysis of their individual risk to reoffend. Research indicates that approximately 5% of adult sex offenders commit new sexual offenses over time* as compared to the national recidivism of 43%.
Level 1 Registrants have committed some horrible crimes and need to remain on “the list.”
The registry is a RISK based tool that the State of Georgia uses to determine the likelihood of someone committing a sexual offense against a child. There are 25 offenses that qualify someone to be placed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
The Sexual Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB) assigns each person on the registry to an investigator that is tasked with evaluating a variety of aspects about the individual NOT JUST the crime that they were convicted of. In making a classification determination, the investigator looks at past criminal history, psychosexual evaluations, and other mental health screening tools. The investigator makes a recommendation to the SORRB board as to how likely they feel this individual is to commit a future sexual offense against a child.
Some Judges believe that if an individual qualifies to be removed, they should be removed.
Once someone is eligible for removal from the registry (by completing their sentence and having been classified as a Level 1 Risk) they must petition the Court for removal. A Court hearing is required unless the District Attorney consents without requiring one. During the Court hearing, the registered citizen must carry the burden of proof that they deserve to be removed from the registry. The District Attorney can call witnesses and present evidence as to why the registered citizen should not be removed. Only if the registered citizen is able to convince the Judge that they should no longer be on the register are they removed.