Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maybe the Georgia Sex Offender Registry has a quota?

A few days ago I did a post on the situation of housing of sex offenders. Well after reading this I wonder if some of the people on the registry in the state of Georgia are being denied certain jobs and living spaces without having even committed a sex crime.

A sex offender registry is supposed to be a maintained list of people who have been convicted of sex crimes. Those who end up on this list are forbidden to live or work within a certain distance of places when children are known to gather. Great idea but did know you that in the state of Georgia in addition to those who commit sex crimes:
...the law applies to anyone convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor, regardless if a sexual act was committed.
That's right. If you kidnap a minor and do not perform a sex crime with them you still end up on the registry. Now there are two problems with this.

First the definition of false imprisonment/kidnapping is more broad than most people think. In 1994, Donnie Lee Boone and two others held up an Augusta restaurant. Because the men moved four employees, one a 17-year-old, from one part of the restaurant to another, they were convicted of kidnapping. I challenge anyone to give a reason why this man has been classified as being the same level of threat as rapists, molesters, and abusers. There are those who commit sex crimes after they have kidnapped a minor but in this situation it is pretty obvious that there was no sexual motivation behind the robbers' actions. By all means punish them for the robbery but there is a such thing as going too far.

Secondly knowing full well the restrictions that actual sex offenders have to live with I think this is putting an unfair burden on people that do want to get on with their lives and actually contribute to society.
At 17, Darnelle Harvey took part in the robbery of a Dairy Queen in Chamblee. Brandishing a gun, he ordered a 16-year-old to lie down as the holdup progressed. This got him a false imprisonment conviction, and because the victim was under 18, Harvey became a sex offender.

After getting out of prison Harvey took up the trade of welding. So far he has had to give up two jobs because the first one required him to move out of state and the second one was at a ranch that hosts parties for kids. Harvey himself even comments on what is likely to happen to people who not allowed to rejoin society.
“If you can’t work, you can’t take care of yourself. When you can’t do that, it might lead to robbing or stealing. What’s left?”

At least the law making body behind this is reviewing this provision. Senator Seth Harp (R-Midland) is working on amending the legislation so that it only requires those who kidnap a minor and commit a sex crime against them to register. (But of course if they commit a sex crime against said minor whether they were kidnapped or not wouldn't they have to register anyway?)

I understand the need to protect innocent people from the clutches of vicious criminals and I know that society is taught that any interaction between a man and minor is a possible sex crime but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Just because a man is interacting with a minor, even in an illegal manner, does not mean its of sexual nature.

Shoutout to Robert Franklin, Esq.