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What are Central Georgia’s law enforcement agencies doing about sex offenders on Halloween?

what-are-central-georgia’s-law-enforcement-agencies-doing-about-sex-offenders-on-halloween?

This week a federal judge ruled that posting warning signs outside some sex offenders homes in Butts County is unconstitutional.

MACON, Ga. — It’s Halloween eve, and while kids are preparing for trick-or-treating, law enforcement is preparing to keep those children safe from sex offenders.

This week, a federal judge ruled that posting warning signs outside some offenders’ homes in Butts County is unconstitutional.

While that decision was specific to three sex offenders in Butts County, Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman says his deputies will now abide by this example.

“For the past several years, we’ve closely monitored [sex offenders] and placed signs in their yards, warning anyone that would go there to trick-or-treat that this residence was a convicted sex offender,” says Freeman.

Freeman says if the offender didn’t want to place a sign in their yard, they reported to the sheriff’s office on the night of October 31st, but this year, he says offenders aren’t required to do either.

That decision comes after Federal Judge Marc Treadwell ruled it was unconstitutional for Butts County Sheriff Gary Long to place a similar notice on some offenders’ front doors.

Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden, and Corey McClendon asked for an injunction against Long at the beginning of October after learning that he planned to post signs outside their homes again this year on Halloween.

“This is vanity. This is them picking on a particularly vulnerable group of citizens,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Yurachek. “They’re just looking to live quiet, private lives.”

On Tuesday, Judge Treadwell ruled in the sex offenders’ favor, saying the three men appeared to be rehabilitated and living law-abiding lives. He wrote that there was no evidence that the three posed any threat to children.

“It’s my understanding that the ruling was specifically for the three individuals that sued, that were in Butts County. However, it’s my theory that if it applied to those three, what would make it not apply to the others? And I just don’t want to find out in federal court that it did apply to those,” says Freeman.

Freeman says ahead of trick-or-treat time, his deputies are “double-checking” on each Monroe County sex offender’s home address, and will be patrolling the streets on Halloween night.

The Georgia sex offender registry is public and is open to everyone online. You can type in your address to see if any registered sex offenders live near you or on the streets you’re planning to take your children trick-or-treating on.

To view the registry, click here.

Taking a closer look at other Central Georgia counties, 13WMAZ asked some other law enforcement agencies about their Halloween plans.

We couldn’t find any other departments posting signs to alert people about sex offenders, but here’s what some agencies are doing:

– Sergeant Tim Leonard with Houston County’s Sexual Offender Registry also says officers will drive past sex offenders houses to check up.

– Dublin Police Chief Tim Chatman says they don’t have any specific requirements for sex offenders, but will have extra officers on the street to keep kids safe.

– Peach County requires sex offenders on probation to come to the courthouse for a few hours, according to Sheriff Terry Deese.

– Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee says they’ll have two officers assigned to monitor the county’s sex offenders Thursday.

 

Source: https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/local/central-georgia-sex-offender-halloween-laws/93-c5abc303-db17-45b2-92d3-a14fc0c8eb4f

Georgia Sheriff sued over “no trick-or-treating” warning signs

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Last year, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long placed signs in their yards that said they were sex offenders and warned children not to trick-or-treat at those homes.

BUTTS COUNTY, Georgia — A Georgia Sheriff wants to protect trick-or-treaters from sex offenders using yard sings, but sex offenders argue the signs go too far and violate their rights.

On Friday’s Lunch Break with Jay Crawford and Betsy Kling, 3News Legal Analyst Stephanie Haney broke down the arguments on both sides of a lawsuit filed by sex offenders hoping to stop the signs from going up again.

Last year, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long placed signs in their yards that said they were sex offenders and warned children not to trick-or-treat at those homes ahead of Halloween festivities. 

The lawsuit filed by registered sex offenders Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden and Corey McClendon on behalf of all sex offenders in Butts County argues that this is trespass, that the Sheriff has no legal authority to place the signs in their yards, and to do so is a violation of the constitution by forcing them to sanction speech.

During a court hearing on Thursday, however, the Sheriff argued the part of the yard where the sign was placed last year, and where he wants to put them again this year, is in the public right of way near the street so trespass doesn’t apply.

He also pointed out the planned signs for this year do not say the people in the homes are sex offenders.

At the heart of this issue is what rights registered sex offenders must give up when they are convicted of their crimes and what they’re required by law to do once they’ve been released from incarceration.

The attorney for the sex offenders told CNN in a statement: “The Registry Statute affords the Sheriff many legal avenues by which he may publicize the name, address and even photograph of every registered sex offender in Butts County, but unless and until the Legislature authorizes it, coming onto their property to force them to display signs is simply not one of them.”

Unlike Georgia, Ohio has a “no candy” law, which prohibits sex offenders on probation and parole from handing out candy and otherwise being a part of trick-or-treating.

These kinds of laws can be difficult to enforce, however, without a constant police presence keeping an eye on homes where they live.

Parents who are concerned about keeping their children away from homes where registered sex offenders lives can check the Ohio sex offender registry here.

Long said on Monday in a post on Facebook: “Regardless of the Judge’s ruling on Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.”

On Thursday at 2:29 P.M. the Sheriff’s Department updated that statement to say no ruling has been made yet in the case, and that they department has been advised to make no further comments at this time.

Source: https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/lunch-break/georgia-sheriff-sued-sex-offenders-yard-sign-trick-or-treating/95-d3673fdc-fc60-4e5b-b0eb-745dce348cff

Georgia Supreme Court ruling strikes down tool for tracking sex offenders

georgia-supreme-court-ruling-strikes-down-tool-for-tracking-sex-offenders

GEORGIA

Law enforcement will still be able to track offenders through the sex offender registry

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — A recent decision from the Georgia Supreme Court is shaking up the way law enforcement tracks some sex offenders.

For years, Georgia law required lifelong electronic tracking for “sexually dangerous predators” even after they completed their sentence, including their time on probation or parole.

However, in a ruling released Monday, the state’s top court said no more.

RELATED: Lifelong monitoring of ‘sexually dangerous predators’ unconstitutional, Georgia Supreme Court rules

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that lifelong monitoring after a completed sentence violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search.

The court reasoned that an ankle bracelet feeding location data to law enforcement constituted a never ending search.

Defense attorney Frank Hogue thought the court got it right.

“I think it’s a good decision because it holds the Fourth Amendment center to our values of privacy against government intrusion,” said Hogue.

On the law enforcement side, the response was mixed.

Lieutenant Kent Bankston with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office said those post-sentence ankle monitors were reserved for serious offenders, including those who committed crimes against children.

“When you’ve committed rape, you know, or any type of felony such as that,” said Bankston.

But he said the ruling wouldn’t keep the sheriff’s office from doing their job.

“I understand the public concern, but it’s not going to change the way we do things,” he said.

Offenders who were formerly wearing the tracker will remain on the sex offender registry and will still have to provide their address to law enforcement. Bankston said law enforcement will, in turn, continue to verify those addresses with in-person checks, as they always have.

He also noted that the “predators”–the group of sex crime offenders the Georgia Bureau of Investigation deems most dangerous–make up a very small portion of Houston County’s sex offender registry.

Of 287 people on the registry, Bankston said only five were classified as predators.

Bibb County had similar numbers. 

According to Sgt. Clay Williams, the county has 404 offenders total on the registry. Five of them are deemed predators.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis was still angry at the ruling.

In a Facebook post, he said the ruling has ‘essentially removed the shackles from monsters in our society.’

He went on to ask legislators to find a way to bring the monitoring program back.

Hogue says a short concurring opinion shows that could be a possibility.

“(It) essentially tells the Georgia legislature ‘here’s an idea for how you can monitor these people with a GPS legally for the rest of their lives,” he said.

That idea, he said, is passing legislation that calls for lifetime probation sentences for the worst sex crime offenders. 

While on probation, the law provides them a diminished expectation of privacy. Under those circumstances, law enforcement could be able to legally track offenders with monitoring bracelets.

Source: https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/ga-supreme-court-ruling-strikes-down-tool-for-tracking-sex-offenders/93-16d41324-c6a3-49aa-84d4-93648f95bd16

MONITORING FOR GEORGIA’S SEX OFFENDERS CHANGES | 13WMAZ.COM

monitoring-for-georgia’s-sex-offenders-changes-|-13wmaz.com

The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled that the lifelong electronic monitoring of “sexually dangerous predators” after their sentence has been completed is unconstitutional. Here’s what local law enforcement and defense lawyers had to say about the change.

Source: https://www.13wmaz.com/video/news/state/georgia-news/monitoring-for-georgias-sex-offenders-changes/93-27592102-fbb0-4829-88a9-e177a5d00e76

Georgia town to hold registered sex offenders at City Hall for 3 hours Halloween night

georgia-town-to-hold-registered-sex-offenders-at-city-hall-for-3-hours-halloween-night

NEWS

Mayor of Grovetown Gary E. Jones made the announcement on his Facebook page, stirring quite a debate.

GROVETOWN, Ga. — A mayor in Georgia plans to round up sex offenders on Halloween to house them at city hall.

Mayor of Grovetown Gary E. Jones made the announcement on his Facebook page, stirring quite a debate.

He posted, “In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders (on probation) in the City of Grovetown will be housed in the county chambers on Halloween night for three hours.”

Jones went on to say the 25 to 30 offenders will be overseen by the Georgia Department of Community Supervision and a local police officer.

If you’re wondering if this is legal, the answer is yes.

The Georgia Department of Community Supervision has the option of requiring paroled sex offenders to check into a specific location on Halloween night or at any time.

This action didn’t come from any previous incident; Mayor Jones said it is a “precautionary action.”

The action is getting quite a bit of support from residents, but some negative feedback, too. Beatrice wrote, “these offenders have paid their debt to society… to place them in a building as a criminal is wrong.”

There is no hard evidence that proves children are more vulnerable to sexual predators on Halloween than any other night of the year, but the National Safety Council reports children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day. Critics believe resources are be better served tackling that rather than going after the sex offenders.

Source: https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/georgia-town-to-hold-registered-sex-offenders-at-city-hall-for-3-hours-halloween-night/93-608011452

Ga. Supreme Court ruling forces GBI to remove names from sex offender list

ga.-supreme-court-ruling-forces-gbi-to-remove-names-from-sex-offender-list

GEORGIA

More than 20 sex offenders pardoned by the state after serving their sentence will be removed from the state sex offender registry.

More than 20 sex offenders will be removed from a state database following a recent decision by the Georgia Supreme Court.

It’s a case that has led to outrage in the state – especially among victims’ rights advocates. It’s also drawn questions from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation – the agency first charged with combing through the sex offender registry.

“We completely understand why those concerns are there and we have concerns as well,” GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles said. “We are still trying to learn and understand, but what we do is we follow the law.”

The ruling specifically dealt with one man’s court battle but now extends to 21 others.

In the court’s review of State v. Davis, justices ruled that Barry Craig Davis, who previously pleaded guilty to aggravated sodomy of his 6-year-old daughter, must be removed from the sex offender registry after he received a pardon from the State of Georgia.

Davis was sentenced to ten years in prison with two to serve in confinement in 1995 and was required to register for life as a sex offender. In July 2005, his probation was terminated. He received his pardon in 2013.

Roughly five years later, on May 21, the Georgia Supreme Court determined that the pardon restored all of his rights other than his right to carry a firearm. Viewing his registration as a sex offender as a “disability imposed by law” the court ruled he must be removed from the registry.

“One of the steps that we have to assure the public is that the information that we deleted is maintained by the GBI and sheriff’s offices can maintain that information and we have it available,” Miles said.

Agents combed through 50 cases of pardoned sex offenders in the state and narrowed that list down to less than half for people specifically pardoned for a sex offense.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles said they’ve since tightened their requirements for pardoning sex offenders and no registered offender has been pardoned since 2013.

They said the pardon does not expunge, erase or remove an offender’s permanent record but helps them re-enter society. The state board added they will notify victims if they’re registered with the state.

Source: https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/crime/ga-supreme-court-ruling-forces-gbi-to-remove-names-from-sex-offender-list/93-572516105

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