Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Banishment of Sex Offenders


Last week the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously overturned that state's draconian restrictions on where sex offenders may live after they're released from prison. Georgia's law prohibited sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and other places where children may gather, including the state's 150,000 or so school bus stops. The upshot was that entire counties, except for a few spots here and there (where there might not have been any actual housing), were off limits. Worse, the opening of a playground or day care center, or the designation of a new bus stop, could render previously legal locations illegal, forcing sex offenders to move repeatedly. "Under the terms of that statute," the state Supreme Court noted, "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." The court ruled that the law violated the Fifth Amendment's ban on uncompensated takings of property. 

A PDF of the decision is available here. Kerry Howley called attention to the wide reach and onerous requirements of state and local sex offender residence restrictions in a reason online essay last year. In a column last fall, I noted that such restrictions are part of a broader political fashion.