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In my post last night about Danbury’s desire to expel all sex offenders from its shelter, a helpful readers points to this NYT article about a homeless sex offender in Georgia who could be facing life in prison for failing to register.
The offender, Larry W. Moore Jr. of Augusta, was convicted in North Carolina in 1994 of indecent liberty with a child, a felony. This week he was convicted for the second time of violating a requirement that he register. Under the new law, a second violation carries an automatic life sentence.
“We have suggested that it is cruel and unusual punishment as it relates to the facts of this case,” said Sam B. Sibley Jr., the state public defender in Augusta, whose office represents Mr. Moore and is planning an appeal on his behalf.
This increased penalty is in conjunction with some tough residency restrictions: 1,000 feet of not only schools and day care centers but also churches, swimming pools and school bus stops.
There is only one shelter in Georgia that accepts male sex offenders. One. Sex offenders that cannot find housing have to resort to all sorts of living accommodations.
In Florida, the state authorized five offenders to live under a bridge in Miami after they were unable to find suitable housing that they could afford. In Iowa, a victims’ group found that offenders tried to comply with the registry law by offering addresses like “rest area mile marker 149” or “RV in old Kmart parking lot.”
I had a client once who was charged with failure to register. He was living under a bridge. I half-joked at the time that he should send in the registration form with “Under Charter Oak Bridge” as his address. Guess some people are actually doing it.
Then you get quotes like this:
Homelessness is not an acceptable excuse. “One of the requirements when you become a sex offender is you have to have an address,” said Sgt. Ray Hardin of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta.
Sergeant Hardin said enforcement of the law required a dedicated investigator, a global positioning system and, each time an offender moves, hours of paperwork. At least 15 sex offenders have been arrested because of homelessness since the law took effect in July 2006, according to documents gathered through pretrial proceedings in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Perhaps the police department can set up tents in their parking lots, where sex offenders can stay. This way, there’s zero cost of monitoring and these folks (some of them are human, too) have a roof over their heads.
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