Finally, Some Reason To Give Thanks In Georgia

New York Times, November 22, 2007
Georgia Justices Overturn a Curb on Sex Offenders

ATLANTA, Nov. 21 — The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously struck down a state law Wednesday that limited where registered sex offenders could live, ruling that the statute was so restrictive it unconstitutionally deprived the offenders of their property rights.

The law, described when it was adopted in 2006 as the nation’s toughest restriction on sex offenders, prohibited them from living within 1,000 feet of schools, churches or any other place that children might congregate, including more than 150,000 school bus stops in the state. The ban applied even when a school, a church or the like opened in an area where an offender was already living.

“Under the terms of that statute, it is apparent that there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being ejected,” said the seven-member court’s opinion, written by Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein.

The court ruled that the statute violated Fifth Amendment protections against the public taking of private property without compensation. ...

... Mr. Mann said in a telephone interview that the court’s decision brought great relief.

“You live kind of every day wondering if the sheriff’s office is going to come out and tell you that you have three days to move,” Mr. Mann said. “It’s happened to me twice.”

Mr. Mann said he had challenged the law to protect his family, but also because he had felt he was being unfairly punished for the sake of political pandering.

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