Monday, September 28, 2009

Why not just buy an island and be done with it?

Homeless sex offenders directed to woods

Georgia's tough sex offender law is forcing some who can't find places to live to take up residence in a tent in a wooded area behind a suburban Atlanta office park.

This is nuts. Nine men are now living in the camp in Marietta, GA. Registered sex offenders in the area can't live within 1000 feet of a school, church, park, or other spot where children gather, which means the vast majority of the metro area is off limits. Granted, all but nine of the registered offenders in the city have found places at least a step above this last resort, but I'm sure it wasn't easy for all of them.

One of the men has a wife and a home, but isn't allowed to live there. Which makes perfect sense, because we wouldn't want a man working to reform himself and live a decent life to have the support of family and the stability of a home. The state of Georgia is just setting this guy up to fail because it seems inevitable that if he can't find somewhere with a roof, he's going to sneak into his home on those cold nights.

Driving registered sex offenders into the woods and under bridges seems so pointless to me. The men in this article describe feeling hopeless, like animals. They can't adequately shower or brush their teeth. They can't keep themselves dry or warm. That's not placing offenders in an atmosphere where they are likely to succeed. Is it too Machiavellian of me to wonder whether that's the point of these laws? We can't just incarcerate people forever, so let's set up such onerous restrictions on them that it's virtually impossible for them to comply and then we can keep locking them up for new violations. I really can't think of any other way that society is protected by forcing these men to live like this.


Burt Likko said...

I think you are being too Machiavellian. You assume that the authors of these laws intentionally wrote them with this result in mind. In fact, it's more likely that these laws were written to respond to one or more of the periodic waves of anti-crime hysteria that sweep through the electorate with no thought whatsoever given to the practical results of their enactment. And given that these are registered sex offenders, rallying political support behind implementing some semblance of common sense to the way the laws are actually administered will be very, very challenging because a great many people are unsophisticated enough to ignore the fact that no, we can't really incarcerate everyone forever.

Jay said...

I believe they knew exactly what they were doing with this law: They were trying to force sex offenders out of Georgia, or if they won't leave, put them in jail forever. A second conviction for "Failure to Register" here is mandatory LIFE.

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