Civil Liberties

At Least Prison Solves the Problem of Finding a Place to Live

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Here's a new wrinkle to Georgia's draconian residence restrictions for sex offenders: If a sex offender cannot find an affordable place to live that is more than 1,000 feet from the nearest school, day care center, church, swimming pool, and school bus stop, he is guilty of failing to register as a sex offender, which requires providing an address. After a second violation, he goes to prison for life. Larry W. Moore Jr., convicted in North Carolina 13 years ago of "indecent liberty with a child," is challenging the law because it left him with no place to live in Augusta except two hotels, then imposed a life sentence when he could no longer afford them.

You may not have a lot of sympathy for Moore. Judging from the charge on which he was convicted, which in North Carolina requires a victim under 16 and a defendent at least five years older, he might be a genuine child molester (as opposed to, say, a teenager who had consensual sex with another, younger teenager, a category into which many of Georgia's "sex offenders" fall). But he has completed the punishment prescribed by law and is now supposedly a free man. It is arbitrary and unjust to impose an additional penalty after the fact, in essence making it impossible for him to live his life on the outside. (In another case cited by The New York Times, a sex offender was told he had to move out of his home and abandon his restaurant when day care centers opened near both locations.) It is especially odious to render a man homeless by legal fiat and then punish him for his homelessness.

Kerry Howley criticized Georgia's sex offender law last summer; I discussed it in the context of proliferating gun-free, drug-free, and pervert-free zones last fall.

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  1. If you’re going to go to jail anyway…

    Uh, yeah, this is probably the best way to make sure these guys to commit another crime.

  2. Damn it. Remove that “to” or replace it with “don’t” if you prefer sarcasm.

  3. Yeah, these nice knee jerk laws are certainly retarded. I’m particularly against these laws that restrict people’s liberties based on what they “might” do. Gun control laws fall here as well (you “might” run out after buying this gun and kill someone so we need a wait period; you might be up to no good if you are buying a lot of guns so we need a one gun a month law, etc.). Punishment should be given for BEHAVIOR not propensities. And of course when someone has finished serving their punishment we should leave them alone until they BEHAVE badly again.

  4. BUT THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! Did I get that right? I’m rather new to these parts.

  5. That’s OK, once we’re done establishing single-payer healthcare the state can build sex offender-only colonies in the woods.

    Or else forbid the sex offender from moving, and then ban schools and daycare centers within 1000 yards of his house. That would work too.

  6. Here on Long Island we’ve come up with a very innovative temporary solution. We put them in portable housing and site them on County land (provided it is not within the pedophile free zone). Then we move ’em around to lessen the temptation of vigilate mobs of breaking wind or worse in their direction. ‘Cause we have very astute citizenry here, and trailers sitting near the courthouse steps can only mean one thing. Anyway, all this moving around has given the folks who live in these portable houses a real sense of stability.

  7. sixstring,
    Heheh. That was good.

  8. Here in the great state of Florida (it is, mostly) sex offenders who drive a car will soon have their driver licenses inscribed with a telltale number in the lower right corner, identifying them as fiends from hell, and presumably further ruining their lives by denying them job opportunities in addition to public ridicule and homelessness. We are, literally, one step away from physically branding their foreheads. Shame on them if they are truly guilty of heinous crimes against children, and shame on us if they are not.

  9. ed: it is what, mostly? Mostly Florida? Mostly a state? Mostly here?

  10. Mostly great, imbecile.

  11. Oh, I get it now. Florida is mostly sex offenders.

    I was fooled by the punctuation.

  12. I wouldn’t have nearly the problem with these policies if there was some correlation between where they live and the rate of occurence in these crimes. But these laws are showing the public that our legislators are “tough on crime”.(Statistics be damned.) Fact is, you are way more likely to be molested by a family member, or friend of the family, or trusted teacher/clergy than you are to have some pedophile grab you as you wait for the schoolbus. We (parents, not agencies) should be more vigilant in keeping an eye on Uncle Ernie if we really care about keeping children safe.

  13. The real problems with this law is that it really is intended to force offenders to leave the state. I’m sure the other states are pleased that Georgia is exporting such fine persons.

  14. Perhaps FSP ought to recruit. Assuming, of course, that NH does not have such cruel and unusual punishments on *its* books.

  15. Bee,

    No, as tempting as it would be for FSP to recruit them, it’s probably a bad tactical move. The people who committed the least serious offenses, and who are most able to earn a living and most worthy of the trust of their neighbors, will probably find a way to get by where they are. A difficult way, but a way nonetheless. FSP recruiting of people affected by this law would probably wind up doing more harm than good for the FSP.

    I’m not defending this law, but I suspect that any attempt to recruit the people affected by it will have some serious consequences.

  16. Well well … what else are we to expect from the state that houses grandma-murderers? Southern states seems particularly egregious in their abasement of common sense and decency when it comes to the justice system. Any thoughts on why that is the case?

  17. Now all you need is for someone to realize that all the sex offenders might get into sex offender conspiracies if they all live together — if you forbid sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of another registered sex offenders, you could actually determine the maximum number of out-of-prison sex offenders allowed to exist at one time.

  18. Tangentially related.

    This is a one weird ass story:

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070803/D8QPQSGG0.html

    Apparently a couple of lawyers got a restraining order against this guy to stay away from anyone under 18 in Cali. because he admits to being attracted to underage girls.

  19. This is why if you’re ever accused of a sex offense involving a child you are better off just bonding out, getting your affairs in order and then putting a bullet through your head. Even if you’re found innocent you’re forever stigmatized with the accusation which is a s good as being guilty. If you’re innocent you’ll likely be found guilty anyway and even when you’ve served your sentence you’ll never be able to start over. You are worse than a murderer or serial killer or cannibal – you’re a kid toucher. There is no way to ever get a new start or leave your past behind since the state and do-gooders will hound you forever even after you’ve served your sentence and parole.

    You might as well kill yourself when the accusation is made. That’s how crazed the hysterical feminized pedophile rape obsessed culture is. Take up your innocence with your God. You won’t find any justice these days.

  20. Hey, there’s something fishy about this: if they didn’t have his address, how’d they find him?

  21. Why don’t we just gassing these people and end the pretense?

  22. In answer to your question, Henry, we lack a Final Solution to the problem. But pretty soon some enterprising politician will think of one.

    And anyway, if they just jump straight to the Final Solution, they would miss out on all those chances to prove their tough on crime credentials along the way. When you got a sure-fire winner like this, you gotta milk it for all its worth!

  23. In other maybe-this-isn’t-such-a-free-country-after-all news, there’s this: “A furious push by the White House to broaden its wiretapping authority appeared on the verge of victory on Friday night after the Senate approved a measure that would temporarily give the administration more latitude to eavesdrop without court warrants on foreign communications that it suspects may be tied to terrorism.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/04/washington/04nsa.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Despite having a majority in the Senate, only 28 Democrats voted against this. But hey, only 21 Democrats voted against the war, so this is progress, right?

  24. We should never forget that “sex offender” may not mean rapist it may not even mean anything serious. The prosecutor forced 16-year-old Matt Bandy to register as an offender (the judge threw it out — thank god for activist judges) because he showed a Playboy to a fellow student. In Oregon the kids may be forced to register as sex offenders for slapping other kids on the butt. In Utat two young teens the same age had sex with each other and were sex offenders for molesting each other. An 18 year old who has sex with his girlfriend, who is two weeks short of her 18th birthday can be registered as a sex offender for molesting children.

    We have seen inflation of sex offenses. The term has come to mean almost anything that some antisexual bigot wants it to mean. If a man takes a pee on the side of the road and someone accidentally sees this that could be exhibitionism and require registration.

    I suspect the goal is to just eventually register everyone for something.


  25. Apparently a couple of lawyers got a restraining order against this guy to stay away from anyone under 18 in Cali. because he admits to being attracted to underage girls.

    I saw this guy on TV. He didn’t just make an offhanded comment about being attracted to people under 18, he runs a website giving pedophiles the best places to search for children to molest. Its apparentley not illegal to do such a thing, but I’m hoping they lock him up for as long as possible with whatever technicality they can find.

  26. If these people are so dangerous they should never be let out in the first place.

    You can argue how they should be confined, what kind of facilities and conditions, but the central point is: If they are dangerous, they should not be walking free.

    If they are not dangerous, and are safe enough to let out, these extra punishments are wrong. They amount to bills of attainder, in effect if not by actual definition.

    But then, who ever said politics is reasonable?

  27. “Despite having a majority in the Senate, only 28 Democrats voted against this. But hey, only 21 Democrats voted against the war, so this is progress, right?”
    So how many Republicans voted against it? Oh snap, that’s right…EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    So are we now gonna run around here, like with the Iraq way, and try to say there is equal blame between the two parties over this? Only 16 Dems voted for this mess. I continue to maintain that currently the Dems, while certainly not satisfactory, are nowhere near worthy of the blame of the GOP which is nearly monolitichally stupid.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070804/ap_on_go_co/senate_rollcall_terrorism_1

  28. Most sex offenses are committed by family, friends or acquaintances of the victim. So registration of a sex offender doesn’t mean that other children will be protected. It just warns the parents that there is a sex offender living nearby and to be extra careful with their children.

  29. Mr Nice Guy,

    Considering that the Dems have their own issues where they’re the monolithically stupid party (increasing minimum wage, doing away with secret ballot union elections), the fact that only half of them vote against Republican stupidity isn’t exactly endearing them to me.

    But, I’m sure joe will be along shortly to explain why half the Dems going along with the prez on this isn’t a bad thing.

  30. There is very little differants between the two parties,they just diagree on where to spend more and who’s rights to take.

  31. Well well … what else are we to expect from the state that houses grandma-murderers? Southern states seems particularly egregious in their abasement of common sense and decency when it comes to the justice system. Any thoughts on why that is the case?

    Yeah, because a majority of the Southern population is Scots and northern English, some of the most vile people ever to draw breath.

  32. “If they are not dangerous, and are safe enough to let out, these extra punishments are wrong. They amount to bills of attainder, in effect if not by actual definition.”

    Not bills of attainder, but ex post facto if they’re punishments. My understanding of the theory of these laws is that they’re not punishments, but public health or safety measures like those used to quarantine, and in this case are based partly on the idea that they’re doing the former sex offender a favor by keeping him from behavior that he can’t resist. Under this theory it would be permissible to confine, but not punish, the person, and that these restrictions on such persons’ residence are viewed as a less restrictive alternative to confinement.

    The punishment for violations (as for failure to satisfy a registration requirement) is supposed to be like enforcement of any other public health or safety law. A similar requirement with similar threat of punishment could be laid on, say, a lessor to register the residence of a lessee who was the subject of such provisions, but it is thought to be more expedient to require it of the former sex offender himself.

    But I still don’t understand how they found this person without an address. Did he deliberately turn himself in to challenge the law or ruling? Did they send a summons to a mail drop he uses?


  33. “Pedophilic perpetrators show structural impairments of brain regions critical for sexual development.
    These impairments are not related to age, and their extent predicts how focused the scope of sexual offenses is on uniform pedophilic activity. Subtle defects of the right amygdala and closely related structures might be implicated in the pathogenesis of pedophilia and might possibly reflect developmental disturbances or environmental insults at critical periods”

  34. Even castration (chemical or otherwise) would be more humane than what they currently put sex offenders through after prison.

  35. Even castration (chemical or otherwise) would be more humane than what they currently put sex offenders through after prison.

    I’d have to disagree with you there. Particularly with respect to “otherwise”.

    Oh, yeah, and these zoning things cause substantial injustices and are at best only slightly effective in their stated goal of protecting children from crimes.

  36. I’d have to disagree with you there. Particularly with respect to “otherwise”.

    It would only be true if they really, truly rapists and pedophiles could not control their compulsions. If thats the case (as LeMur suggested) I don’t see any other alternative.

    I don’t think its necessarily true, but I was just responding to the comment above.

  37. Death should be considered before castration. I read a lot of history, and that is the only thing that manages to seriously disturbe me.

  38. Makes that “disturb”.

    Although anything about Cambodia is up there.

  39. The most disturbing thing to me is the repeated rape of small children.

  40. Nevermind, I forgot to think about psychiatric wards. If they can’t control that compulsion, they need to be in one of those the rest of their lives.

  41. Well; death, castration, and psychiatric confinement would each be very effective methods of preventing sex offenders from re-offending. But I’ll agree with Cesar that psychiatric confinement would be the most humane and (sic) most preferable of those options.

  42. I’m not sure, but I’m fairly sure that castration has never been effective where it has been tried.

    I think it has something to do with the fact that castration of an adult has little or no effect on sex drive. Besides, isn’t most of what drives the pedophiliac in his brain rather than his gonads?

    Strikes me, that if your looking for effective surgery, lobotomy might be more up your alley.

  43. I am always suprised how easily so many men are led into seeing only one side of this coin which is, de facto, one in which both sexes have a part. The women’s ‘liberation’, however, has effectively excluded the other side.
    De jure, this is handled differerntly: You can see that best in the legal practice in US courts where a woman who rapes a ten or twelve year old boy and get pregnant is not only allowed to keep the child but to sue her victim and have him sentenced to pay 20 years of child support. The child rape victim is punished – not the rapist and pedophile!
    And you talk of ‘castration’ and the ‘death penalty’ – whilst the female side is rewarded for the crime. But is it a crime?
    If this is something that happens to people – something they obviously cannot control, we have to think of it as an illness. Now: if someone does something out of illness, the law normally grants “insanity”, permanent or temporary, as an exemption from punishment.
    Obviously, this is done for women. See also Ms. Yates who killed her five children: if a man had done that he would be executed – for a woman: she is ill.
    What is really needed is a permanent ‘good bye’ to the revenge and sadism justice that is still prevailing in countries like Iran, Iraq, the USA, and China. A clear differenciation between culpability and illness. And respect for human life – all human life! And that includes those who fall ill.
    Dr. J. Boost

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