Ruling on Georgia sex offender law leaves offenders in limbo

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

Should sex offenders be forced away from thousands of bus stops, or does that rule go too far?

There's another twist in Georgia's controversial sex offender laws: the attorney general has filed an appeal against a judge's ruling.

Thursday, a federal judge temporarily blocked Georgia's law preventing registered sex offenders from living near bus stops.

However, the restriction on living near schools, churches, parks, gyms, and swimming pools still goes into effect July 1.

It has sex offenders wondering what they should do now.

"I did my time, I did three years of a four-year sentence and I'm still paying," one registered sex offender told News 12. "I made bad choices."

In just three weeks, this man, who didn't want us to show his face, says he went from desperately searching for a new home to sitting back and playing the waiting game.

"Can I pitch a tent? I'd even live in a cardboard box," he said. "I've been hardly able to eat or sleep."

All this because of the latest court injunction that has temporarily halted Georgia's new law that requires sex offenders to move 1000 feet away from where children congregate.

The Thursday ruling didn't just catch offenders off guard. Local sheriff's departments aren't exactly sure what's next either.

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

The back-and-forth is leaving thousands of offenders and their neighbors in the limbo.

So what do the people living next door say?

"He's been a good neighbor. He keeps to himself," says Gerlinda Lyons, who lives near a sex offender.

"You have to worry about your family's safety," says neighbor Susan Campbell. "And I know he has his rights, and he should, but whose rights do you pick?"

The offender we spoke with says he's staying put until the hearing on July 11. After that the judge will decide whether to make the ruling permanent.

Late Friday afternoon, the state appealed the ruling to the federal appeals court in Atlanta.

To read HB 1059, click here.

To see the full text of the lawsuit, click here.

To see the full text of the appeal, click here.


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