DA says sex offender law a state's rights issue

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of Georgia's controversial sex offender statute.

The ruling impacts those registered offenders living within 1000 feet of school bus stops.

The situation has now become a waiting game.

After going door-to-door, notifying registered sex offenders of being in violation of the new law, Richmond County sheriff's deputies have now been put on hold.

"We know there are some court litigations right now," says Sgt. Richard Roundtree. "Right now we are just standing by, trying to see what the interpretation of the law is, how it affects us."

The law--House Bill 1059--states that any offender living within 1000 feet of where children congregate will be forced to move.

Its original start date was July 1.

But U.S. district judge Clarence Cooper has temporarily stalled a statute pending a July 11 hearing.

The ruling only applies to those within 1000 feet of school bus stops, a provision opponents say would make it virtually impossible for registered sex offenders to live in residential neighborhoods.

Augusta district attorney Danny Craig not only supports the legislation...he helped write it.

"Once he has considered the importance of the constitutional issue of state's rights, I think that he's going to approve the statute as written," Craig said.

In the meantime, deputies are suspending their efforts until further notice from the state. The move will allow sex offenders living near school bus stops to remain where they are for at least another two weeks.

The attorney general's office has been arguing this case before Judge Cooper, who is in the federal court for the northern district of Georgia.

The state has filed two appeals in response to this ruling. To download the full text of the appeals, click here.

The judge's order only applies to the bus stop provision of the new law. The rest of the law--which prohibits sex offenders from living, working or loitering within a thousand feet of schools, churches, parks, gyms, or swimming pools--still goes into effect Saturday, June 1.

Georgia's new law also includes harsher minimum prison sentences, and requires certain offenders to wear electronic monitoring devices.

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