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Sex Offender Rights Group Threatens Sheriff with Lawsuit

sex-offender-rights-group-threatens-sheriff-with-lawsuit

COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Several Georgia counties are catching heat from the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) over the imposition of unlawful registration requirements.

NARSOL is an organization that opposes dehumanizing registries and works to eliminate discrimination against those accused or convicted of sexual offenses. Some of their goals include promoting laws targeting harmful acts instead of entire classes of people, advocating for review and removal of currently committed persons who do not meet the dangerousness criteria, and seeking out programs that effectively reintegrate and rehabilitate former offenders.

The organization first turned their attention to Georgia during the Halloween season when two of our counties decided to “overstep their legal authority” by placing signs at the homes of registered sex offenders warning trick-or-treaters to stay away. One county voluntarily removed the signs after NARSOL’s outreach, however, Butts County required assistance from a federal judge. Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Sheriff Long and his employees couldn’t place the signs during the Halloween season. NARSOL has since reached out to both counties to discuss further communication and legal challenges going forward, neither of the sheriffs have responded.

In January of 2020, a Georgia county found itself under NARSOL’s radar yet again. Sheriff Neil Warren of Cobb County received a cease-and-desist letter on January 27 for imposing “invented requirements” that are not contained in the Georgia Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act (SORNA).

“Your deputies are imposing invented requirements not contained in the Georgia Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act (SORNA). We strenuously urge you to become familiar with the limitations of your office as it relates to SORNA and train your deputies and staff to act properly and constitutionally,” stated Brenda Jones, NARSOL’s Executive Director.

Jones added that states and communities need to be on notice and aware that they will be challenged whenever they start to threaten the constitutional rights of registered citizens.

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2020/01/sex-offender-rights-group-threatens-sheriff-with-lawsuit/

Judge issues ruling favoring sex offenders who sued Butts County sheriff over ‘no trick-or-treat’ signs

judge-issues-ruling-favoring-sex-offenders-who-sued-butts-county-sheriff-over-‘no-trick-or-treat’-signs

A federal judge heard arguments in court last week and handed back the decision, Tuesday.

ATLANTA — A federal judge has issued a ruling favoring – in part – three registered sex offenders who sued the Butts County Sheriff, calling the “no trick-or-treat” signs the sheriff placed in their yards an abuse of power. 

Last year, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long had deputies place the signs in the yards of the registered sex offenders in the days leading up to Halloween, alerting parents and trick-or-treaters that they should avoid those homes. 

“My office took precautions and placed signs indicating ‘No Trick-or-Treat’ at each registered sex offender’s residence in the County,” Sheriff Long said. “This was done to ensure the safety of our children.”

Georgia state law prohibits registered sex offenders from placing Halloween decorations on their property. But several of the sex offenders objected to the signs, saying it made them a target and was an overreach by the sheriff. Three of those offenders ended up filing suit, arguing that the yard signs went too far – breaking the law in the name of enforcing the law. 

“State law does require him to notify the public in very specific ways, and none of those ways includes placing signs on registrants’ lawns,” explained Mark Yurachek, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. 

According to the lawsuit, the offenders questioned whether the sheriff “exceeded his authority” in putting up the signs and whether deputies trespassed on their properties in doing so. The suit also says the deputies’ actions caused harm, including “anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation,” and damaged their ability to trust law enforcement. They sought a jury trial and damages.

A federal judge heard arguments in court last week and handed back the decision, Tuesday. 

“The question the Court must answer is not whether Sheriff Long’s plan is wise or moral, or whether it makes penological sense. Rather, the question is whether Sheriff Long’s plan runs afoul of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It does,” the ruling states.

In the ruling, the judge granted the named plaintiffs’ motion to prevent the sheriff’s office from posting the signs in the named plaintiffs’ yards. However, the judge declined to offer damages. The court also declined to enter into a sweeping injunction in favor of all registered sex offender, but warned the sheriff’s office “should be aware that the authority for their blanket sign posting is dubious at best and even more dubious if posted over the objection of registrants.”

The court continued, saying that the ruling does not limit the sheriff’s discretion “to act on specific information suggesting a risk to public safety. But he cannot post the signs over the named Plaintiffs’ objections simply because their names are on the registry.”

In a statement to 11Alive following the judge’s ruling, Yurachek, the attorney, said his clients were “thankful” to the court’s “thoughtful and measured decision.” 

“There is a long way to go in this action and, although we decline further comment specifically addressing the litigation, we are hopeful that this decision indicates that, as with this preliminary issue, we will prevail in the permanent injunction action and the lawsuit in general,” the statement continued. “We hope for and wish that every child in Butts County and in every community in the country enjoys a joyful and safe Halloween and note, as the Court’s opinion did, that the lack of signs in front of registrants’ homes will not affect either their joy or their safety this year or any other year.”

He added that he would hope the ruling gives the sheriff “pause about putting up signs this Halloween or in the future.”

11Alive reached out the sheriff’s office for a comment on the ruling. They posted a response on their Facebook page saying they will continue to fight the lawsuit, but will not put up any yard signs while the suit is pending.

“The judge in this matter has ruled that I can NOT put signs on the right-of-way of the three offenders that filed the lawsuit. While I respectfully and strongly disagree with the judge’s ruling, I must abide by the ruling,” the sheriff said.

The sheriff added that he sought advice from the Prosecuting Attorneys Council in 2018 before deputies placed the signs, who gave specific instructions on how to place them in compliance with Georgia Law.

In lieu of the signs, the sheriff said he will keep a “very strong presence” in the neighborhoods where there are known sex offenders. He also added that while some may be disappointed with the ruling, he strongly encouraged they “NOT take matters into your own hands this Halloween.”

“We understand frustration with the Judge’s ruling, but we all must abide by it unless it is overturned on appeal. Unfortunately, there is no time to appeal before this Halloween,” the sheriff said. “My promise to the citizens of Butts County is to protect the public, especially the children.”

You can check the Georgia sex offender registry by visiting the state’s website.

Source: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/federal-judge-rules-partially-in-favor-of-butts-county-sex-offenders/85-d22c5d04-1b7b-4f4c-aaab-aba0630359fb

Georgia Supreme Court hears Catoosa County sexual battery case

georgia-supreme-court-hears-catoosa-county-sexual-battery-case

The Georgia Supreme on Tuesday, Sept. 10, heard a Catoosa County case in which Jacob Daniel Jones was convicted of sexual battery involving a 15-year-old girl.

JONES V. THE STATE (S19A1248)

A young man who was convicted in Catoosa County of sexual battery for touching the breasts, buttocks, and groin of a 15-year-old girl is appealing his conviction, arguing that Georgia’s sexual battery statute is unconstitutional.

FACTS:

On Aug. 12, 2013, Jacob Daniel Jones, then 18 years old, visited the home of J.S., who was less than 2 months shy of her 16th birthday. J.S. was sitting in her living room with three of her young friends when Jones came to the door. According to briefs filed by the State, J.S. “had no reason to believe that Aug. 12, 2013, would need to be a day she remembered. However, when Mr. Jones showed up, he was going to make it a day for J.S. that would live in infamy.” In a written statement, J.S. said that when she answered the door, Jones, who had not been invited, grabbed her arm and pulled her outside. She said he immediately spun her around and pressed his body against hers. He then grabbed her chest, squeezed her buttocks, and put his hand between her legs. Later at trial, however, J.S. said that when Jones came to the door and asked to speak to J.S., she stepped outside, and the two sat on the porch talking “about friends and such.” When Jones suggested the two have a few minutes alone together, J.S. grew uncomfortable and invited the others to come outside so they could all play basketball. According to the State, “J.S. understood what Mr. Jones wanted from her, but she was clear when it came to Mr. Jones’s advance that they did ‘not need to do that.’” J.S. and Jones, along with her three friends, then went to the end of the yard to play basketball. While walking to the court, Jones was holding his cell phone. Because J.S. did not want Jones taking photos of her, she took Jones’s phone from him and put it down her bra, according to one of her friends, who testified at trial. The friend said that when Jones asked J.S. to give it back, J.S. said, “If you want it, you’ll have to come and get it yourself.” “And he did,” the witness added. Another friend, however, testified that J.S. had put her iPod down her shirt, not Jones’s phone, and the witness said he had no recollection of her tempting Jones to “come and get it.” He said he did see Jones touch J.S. in “the uppertory part of her body,” touching J.S. “in a wrong way.” “While it is true that J.S. was making sexually explicit jokes, did take Mr. Jones’s phone, and did hug Mr. Jones, these actions did not provide Mr. Jones permission to unleash his concupiscent desires,” the State has written in the Facts section of its brief. “J.S., a ‘very huggable person,’ gave Mr. Jones a hug and in response Mr. Jones moved his hands from a consensual hug to her ‘crotch area’ over her clothing, to her ‘behind’ and then put his hands on her ‘chest, boob area,’ all the while stating, ‘if I wanted to, I could get you there too.’” J.S. eventually told her father what had happened.

In November 2013, a Catoosa County grand jury indicted Jones for three counts of Sexual Battery Against a Child Under 16, charging him with making intentional physical contact with the intimate parts of J.S., a child under the age of 16, without her consent. Jones’s attorney filed a Motion to Quash Indictment as Unconstitutional and Disproportional. Following a hearing, the trial court denied his motion. Jones sought to appeal the trial court’s denial of his motion to the Georgia Supreme Court, but in April 2014, this Court denied his application for a pre-trial appeal. Following a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt, with no jury, the judge returned a verdict of guilty on all three counts. Jones was sentenced to five years and is currently in prison. Jones now appeals to the state Supreme Court.

ARGUMENTS:

Jones’s attorneys argue his convictions and sentence should be reversed because the state’s sexual battery statute violates his constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. “Because Mr. Jones faces five years’ imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sexual offender for touching J.S., yet would only be subject to misdemeanor punishment for having full-fledged sexual intercourse with her, the application of the sexual battery statute in this case violates Mr. Jones’s rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as Article I, Section I, Paragraphs I, II, and XVII of the Georgia Constitution of 1983,” Jones’s attorneys argue in briefs. Georgia Code § 16-6-22.1 (b) states that, “A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.” Generally, the punishment for sexual battery is as a misdemeanor. However, if the victim is under the age of 16, the defendant is subject to a prison sentence of one to five years. The statute does not contain a “Romeo and Juliet” provision, reducing punishment based on the relative ages of the victim and offender. A person convicted of felony sexual battery also faces lifetime registration as a sexual offender. In contrast, the statutes governing child molestation and statutory rape contain “Romeo and Juliet” provisions. Both crimes are punishable as misdemeanors where the “victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim.” Furthermore, if convicted of child molestation or statutory rape, the defendant is not required to register as a sex offender. “Based on their ages, Mr. Jones easily could have been charged with misdemeanor child molestation for his alleged conduct,” his attorneys argue. “Instead, Mr. Jones faces five years’ imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sexual offender,” in violation of his constitutional rights. “As applied in this case, the penalty attached to sexual battery is grossly disproportional to the crime.” Furthermore, Jones’s convictions should be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, the attorneys contend. At trial, during cross-examination, J.S. conceded that she was afraid her boyfriend would learn about her flirtation with Jones. “In this case, J.S. was untruthful with law enforcement because she feared her jealous and abusive boyfriend would learn that she flirted with Mr. Jones. On direct examination, the State’s own witnesses testified to observing only one instance of touching: J.S. placed a cell phone in her bra and invited Mr. Jones to retrieve it. Mr. Jones retrieved the cell phone, but made no additional physical contact. In that scenario, any touching of J.S. would be deemed incidental to retrieving the phone and consensual. On direct examination, the State’s witnesses admitted that J.S. ‘had asked all of us to lie.’”

The State, represented by the District Attorney’s office, argues that, “The Legislature is presumed to enact legislation with full knowledge of the existing condition of the law, including that of the United States Constitution and Georgia Constitution.” Georgia’s sexual battery statute is narrowly tailored to prohibit the touching of any person without his/her consent, and includes an enhanced punishment when the victim is under the age of 16. “As applied in this case, the legislature protected this victim from exactly the conduct it intended to protect children under the age of 16 from,” the State argues in briefs. “The child, J.S., and Mr. Jones were flirting. The child did consent to the non-sexual contact of a hug, but did not consent to the groping of her breasts, buttock, or vagina.” Furthermore, the enhancement of the punishment under the sexual battery statute when a victim is under the age of 16, while there is a downward deviation for offenders of child molestation who are of similar age to their victims, “speaks to society’s views on protecting minors that are neither factually consenting to the activity and are not of legal age to consent.” Jones’s crime “was not a passive felony,” the State argues. “Competent evidence showed that Mr. Jones did touch the intimate parts of J.S., a child under the age of 16, without her permission.” His convictions should stand because the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. “J.S. is flirtatious, but that is not a sufficient reason for Mr. Jones to inappropriately touch J.S. without her consent,” the State argues. Furthermore, “Mr. Jones affirmed to the trial court at sentencing that his actions were in fact wrong and that he did need to be punished, thus affirming the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Attorneys for Appellant (Jones): Sean Lowe, David Dunn

Attorneys for Appellee (State): Herbert “Buzz” Franklin, District Attorney, Melissa Pittman, Asst. D.A.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/georgia-supreme-court-hears-catoosa-county-sexual-battery-case/article_e5092115-b325-57e8-84c0-b79aab06da81.html

82 arrested in multi-state operation for child pornography

82-arrested-in-multi-state-operation-for-child-pornography

DECATUR, Ga. (CBS46) – An operation between eight southeastern states arrested 82 people in April.

Officials reported rescuing 17 children who were identified as victims in the operation.

According to the GBI, the arrestees ranged in age from 20 to 70.

The Operation Southern Impact III reported the arrestees to have possessed and distributed child pornography in several southeastern states.

The GBI arrested a total of 31 people in Georgia during the operation including one sex offender.

The execution of the operation started four months ago and included a total of 171 law enforcement.

Those in custody and charged in Georgia as part of Operation Southern Impact III are:

1. James Barfield IV, 51, Atlanta, GA, home improvement store employee

2. Dillan M. Bell, 26, Allenhurst, GA, unemployed

3. Gerald Chamberlain, 34, Rome, GA, golf course maintenance worker

4. Carol Chellew, 56, Jefferson, GA, county employee

5. Doug Chellew, 56, Jefferson, GA, department store employee

6. Timothy Wayne Diggs, 39, Metter, GA, information technology specialist

7. Keith James Diver, 37, Norcross, GA, restaurant employee

8. Erick Noe Gonzalez, 26, Buford, GA, landscaper

9. Erik Gordon, 30, Morrow, GA, shipping company employee

10. Desmond Lemond Hasley, 27, Douglasville, GA, staffing company employee

11. Keidron Jayquan Isham, 23, Rome, GA, unemployed

12. Claude Martin Johnson IV, 21, Augusta, GA, unemployed

13. Andrew Kim, 30, Suwanee, GA, business owner

14. Jordan Logan, 33, Grovetown, GA, painter

15. Jonathan Craig Manning, 28, Rome, GA, railroad worker

16. Andrew J. Martz, 30, Tyrone, GA, student

17. Matthew James McDurmond, 26, Cedartown, unknown

18. Terry Menard, 61, Roswell, GA, multimedia designer

19. Daniel Joseph Mullinax, 35, Auburn, GA, unemployed

20. Justin Lee Myers, 22, Cleveland, GA, unknown

21. Andrew Benjamin Nelson, 42, Marietta, GA, construction worker

22. Michael David Quinn, 44, Roswell, GA, unknown

23. Matthew Steven Ramski, 37, Cumming, GA, graphic design artist

24. Arlen Lemuel Riddle, 46, Muscadine, AL, fireman

25. Malchijah Robinson, 40, Decatur, GA, unemployed

26. David Chris Sammons, 33, Eatonton, GA, factory worker

27. Omar S. Sanchez-Viera, 40, Jonesboro, GA, health supplement company employee

28. Chad Sitzwohl, 35, Dawsonville, GA, factory worker

29. Wille D. Slaughter, 33, Valdosta, GA, military veteran

30. Wan Yeung Tang, 45, Cumming, GA, dishwasher

31. Tyler Wooten, 21, Sharpsburg, GA, student

Source: https://www.cbs46.com/news/82-arrested-in-multi-state-operation-for-child-pornography/article_9f6c68d6-6dd4-11e9-9c0a-7b3abcab5184.html

Former Georgia probation officer charged with extorting a parolee

former-georgia-probation-officer-charged-with-extorting-a-parolee

Tyrique F.  Williams, a former officer with Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision, has been charged with accepting bribe payments from a parolee in exchange for allowing the parolee to avoid wearing an ankle monitor, taking polygraph examinations, and attending treatment classes.

“Officers from Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision serve our citizens faithfully and honorably every day,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Williams, however, allegedly violated both his oath of office as a law enforcement officer and the law when he traded his integrity for money.”

“As citizens, we place our safety and trust in the hands of the law enforcement officers sworn to protect us.  When officers betray that trust, they place the community and their fellow law enforcement officers in danger.  The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office is committed to working hand in hand with its partners to ensure those that betray their badge are identified and held accountable for their actions,” said DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.

“The reputation of law enforcement officers is one of their most valuable tools. The alleged illegal actions committed by Mr. Williams are a disservice to our agency and its upstanding employees who take their oath of office to heart. DCS has zero tolerance for misconduct or illegal activity. Despite the situation being unfortunate and regrettable, DCS was happy to assist in the investigation and will continue to partner with investigative authorities to remove the likes of Williams from our noble profession,” said Racheal B. Peters, Director of Public Affairs for the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: the Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision is responsible for the probation and parole supervision of over 200,000 adult felony offenders and certain juvenile offenders.

In the fall of 2014, Williams began working as a probation officer with the Department of Community Supervision. From 2016 to 2018, the Department of Community Supervision managed a parolee (“Parolee”), who had previously served 14 years in prison for a sexual offense. While on parole, the Parolee completed a number of courses and treatment classes and the Parolee never incurred a parole violation.  Nevertheless, once Williams became responsible for the supervision of the Parolee, Williams told the Parolee that additional conditions and restrictions would be placed on the Parolee.

On April 19, 2018, Williams allegedly visited the Parolee’s residence and displayed a hand written note reading in substance: $3,000, no polygraph, no ankle bracelet, no supervision fee, yes or no?  After reading the note, the Parolee told Williams that he would pay him the $3,000.  The Parolee then contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and reported Williams’ extortionate demand.

On April 27, 2018, in a meeting recorded by the FBI, the Parolee met with Williams at the Georgia Department of Community Supervision in Decatur, Georgia. During the meeting, Williams led the Parolee to a secluded area of the building, where the Parolee paid Williams $1,000 in cash.  Williams told the Parolee that in exchange for a second $3,500 bribe payment, Williams would not require the Parolee to wear an ankle monitor or submit to a polygraph examination.

On May 4, 2018, in a meeting recorded by the FBI, the Parolee met with Williams at a fast food restaurant in Stone Mountain, Georgia. In the bathroom of the fast food restaurant, the Parolee paid Williams $3,500 in cash.

Notably, after the Parolee paid the two bribe payments, Williams did not make the Parolee take a polygraph examination, wear an ankle bracelet, or attend any additional treatment classes

Tyrique F. Williams, 28, of Atlanta, has been charged via criminal information with one count of Extortion under the Color of Official Right. Defendants who are charged by a criminal information, typically plead guilty shortly after being arraigned.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, and the Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis, Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, and Leanne M. Marek are prosecuting the case.

This is a press release from the US Department of Justice.

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Source: https://allongeorgia.com/georgia-public-safety/former-georgia-probation-officer-charged-with-extorting-a-parolee/

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

Ga. Supreme Court blocks lifetime GPS trackers for sex offenders

ga.-supreme-court-blocks-lifetime-gps-trackers-for-sex-offenders

ATLANTA, GA (CBS46) On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously voted against a bill that would require sexual predators to wear GPS monitoring devices for life.

The ruling determined Georgia law O.C.G.A. 42-1-14(E) to be unconstitutional “in the requirement that a person classified as a sexually dangerous predator who is no longer in custody, on parole, or probation wear a GPS monitoring device.”

Specifically stating the Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The law also states that the offender would not only have to wear the monitor for the rest of their “natural life”, but that they are also responsible for paying for the device.

“Nothing in this ruling relieves a person determined to be a sex offender from the requirements of registering in the county they reside in, and following the rules of the registry,” said Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap.

The sheriff says the county will abide by the ruling. Adding, “that all four of the Bartow County persons designated as sexually dangerous predators who are no longer on any sentence status (probation or parole) have had their GPS tracking devices removed to conform to this ruling.”

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Source: https://www.cbs46.com/news/ga-supreme-court-blocks-lifetime-gps-trackers-for-sex-offenders/article_c93bca60-405e-11e9-8064-7336b758b1f6.html

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

lifelong-monitoring-of-‘sexually-dangerous-predators’-unconstitutional,-georgia-supreme-court-rules

Today’s unanimous opinion found that the Georgia code is in direct contrast to the Fourth Amendment.

The Georgia Supreme Court struck down a requirement that “sexually dangerous predators” who have completed their sentences should remain on electric monitoring for the rest of their lives. 

In Monday’s unanimous opinion, written by Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, the high court found that the Georgia code, “authorizes a patently unreasonable search that runs afoul of the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” which protects citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The case was in response to the appeal of Joseph Park, who was convicted of child molestation and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Douglas County in 2003. Park was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with the requirement to serve eight years.

After he was released from prison in 2011, the Sex Offender Registration Review Board classified him as a “sexually dangerous predator,” which meant that he had to wear and pay for an electric monitoring system linked to a GPS system for the rest of his life.

Following his release on probation, Park asked the board to re-evaluate his classification, but it was upheld. He then petitioned for judicial review in Fulton County Superior Court, challenging the classification on constitutional grounds. The trial court also upheld his classification as a “sexually dangerous predator” and the Supreme Court denied Park’s application for appeal, making the ruling final. By April 2015, Park completed his criminal sentence and probation and was released from state custody.

In Feb. 2016, Park was arrested and indicted for tampering with his ankle monitor, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years. He challenged the indictment, arguing that he could not be prosecuted in part because the electric monitoring system under Georgia code was unconstitutional. Once again, the ruling was upheld and Park again asked the Supreme Court to intervene, which agreed to review his pre-trial appeal to determine whether or not the Georgia law is unconstitutional.

In his appeal, Park argued that Georgia’s lifelong ankle monitoring rule was unconstitutional because it, in part, authorizes unreasonable lifelong, warrant-less searches of sex offenders who are deemed to be sexually dangerous predators.

In Monday’s opinion, the Supreme Court pointed out that the Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable” searches.

“Accordingly, we must determine if a lifelong search of the individuals required to wear a GPS monitoring advice … is reasonable,” today’s opinion stated. “The permanent application of a monitoring device and the collection of data by the State about an individual’s whereabouts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through warrantless GPS monitoring for the rest of that individual’s life, even after that person has served the entirety of his or her criminal sentence, constitutes a significant intrusion upon the privacy of the individual being monitored.”

Furthermore, the state Supreme Court ruled that the purpose of collecting data generated from a GPS ankle monitor is “to collect evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing” against the person.

“We must conclude that individuals who have completed their sentences do not have a diminished expectation of privacy that would render their search by a GPS monitoring device unreasonable,” the ruling stated.

Other states have passed statues authorizing lifelong GPS monitoring that “have passed constitutional muster,” the ruling also pointed out. For example, in Michigan, a sex offender gets lifelong GPS tracking as part of the offender’s actual sentence.

Today’s decision does not take away life sentences and the decision does not prevent sentencing courts from handing down lifelong GPS monitoring. Georgia law already states that those convicted of forcible rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery must be sentenced to life imprisonment, or prison time followed by lifetime probation.

MORE |

Source: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/georgia-supreme-court-deems-lifelong-monitoring-of-sexually-dangerous-predators-unconstitutional/85-121136ba-9cb1-4b55-b015-14a832dbb241

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