Questions on Aiken County sex offender law

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, Sept. 10, 2007

Aiken CTY--We're one day closer to a potential sex offender law in Aiken County. We've heard both sides of the story and now we hear from a sex offender and a county councilman.

More questions are emerging as Aiken County moves closer to a sex offender law. Enforceability, unclear wording and who to punish are three of the concerns.

It's been 13 years since this sex offender broke up with his 15 year old girlfriend. He was 17 and was convicted of touching her inappropriately. He spent 3 months in prison, 3 years on probation and finished a 12 step rehabilitation program. He lives in Aiken County right down the street from a park. And soon, he might have to move.

"It really needs to be highly stressed the nature of the crime committed," he says.

He's talking about Aiken County's proposed sex offender ordinance. The bottom line: no offender can live within a thousand feet of a school, church, park or child care facility. Later this month, it could become law. But one councilman thinks it's too broad.

"We want to protect the children and others from sexual predators but not all folks are on the sex offender list I would classify as such," says Councilman Scott Singer.

And that's exactly where this man finds himself.

"All of my friends have kids. Once I tell them my story, they are like 'Oh, you don't really belong on that.'"

"'What do you want to see added to this draft?' First, to put on there the type of crime and the nature of the crime. The public needs to know that, he's a high risk assessment. He's a 3. People need to watch him when he comes around."

His wife adds, "let the child molesters the repeat offenders be on a public registry. And let the people who are at a risk assessment zero be on a private registry."

Another issue: if the law would apply to those who live in Aiken County now, or who move here because of Georgia's new law. And Singer says the council does not want to pass a law which makes sex offenders hide.

"They'll just not register at all and I don't think that makes our communities any safer."

The council will meet on September 18th at Aiken Technical College to discuss and possibly approve this ordinance. The meeting will begin at 7pm.


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  • by Hmm on Sep 13, 2007 at 10:34 AM
    So if infertile people have sex, should we lock them up too?
  • by rita Location: chatanooga on Sep 13, 2007 at 09:20 AM
    i believe any minor under 18 who has sex should be locked up for life. Sex is not for minors. we have mad a law that the age of consent is 18 and i agree totally. lock them up and throw away the key. sex is for adults only for procreation purposes only.
  • by Gina Location: buckhead on Sep 13, 2007 at 07:14 AM
    Residency restrictions solve nothing," said Sarah Tofte, the report's main author. "They simply make it nearly impossible for former offenders to put their lives back together." The report challenges some widespread perceptions about sex offenders. For example, it says that while the state laws are focused on protecting children from sexual abuse by strangers, most abuse is committed by family members and trusted authority figures. The report also contends that recidivism rates are lower than claimed by tough-on-crime politicians. Studies on recidivism have produced widely varying figures, but the most recent Justice Department analysis, issued in 2003, said 5.3 percent of sex offenders released from state prisons were re-arrested for another sex crime within three years. recidivism rates or reoffending is lower for sex offenders than theives, drug dealers, violent offeders as well as most other crimes. 5% means only 1-20 reoffend. way less than many exagerate.
  • by martha Location: macon on Sep 13, 2007 at 07:07 AM
    http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/09/06/usdom16819_txt.htm http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gPAbZgz6aKEWAiVZ0tfU1g8p-o8g above are two articles showing residency regulations are unconstitutional, non-productive and non-efficient and doing more harm than good. i would suggest anyone debating this read the two stories linked above. it also states: "These are laws that weren't based on reason — they were based on a few horrific cases," said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch. "But it's very difficult for politicians to demonstrate the courage to urge changes in these laws." "The residency law doesn't have any tie to safety," said Polk County Attorney John Sarcone. "They passed it with good intentions, but the reality is the vast majority of assaults against children occur from someone they know." Residency restrictions solve nothing," said Sarah Tofte, the report's main author. "They simply make it nearly impossible for former offenders more.,
  • by James Location: Colorado on Sep 12, 2007 at 07:24 PM
    U.S. Department of Justice, National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children. http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/nismart2_overview.pdf This report states in 2002 an estimated 1,325,600 kids went missing. 797,500 were reported as missing. 628,900 of these children were identified as runaway/throwaway kids. Of the other 528,100 children their parents didn't even bother to file a report. So let’s look at where the danger lies. Out of 1,315,600 missing kids 115 were snatched in the sense that everybody is worried about. And that includes kids that were snatched for ransom, and kids that were snatched by a disturbed or distraught person who wanted a child of their own, so how many are left that were snatched and killed by the sex offenders that are hiding behind every tree? A total of only 40 ... 6132 died in car chrashes ... seems we spend a lot of money on a very small but highly hyped problem.
  • by jill Location: Montgomery on Sep 12, 2007 at 01:42 PM
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jqJPKVO5BkcvtV5AnsvhMD2kYOGA this one is a must read on the subject. Report Faults Sex-Offender Laws By DAVID CRARY – 2 hours ago NEW YORK (AP) — Many state laws targeting convicted sex offenders violate the rights of people who pose little risk, a leading human rights group said Wednesday. It called for repeal of laws restricting where these ex-offenders can live and for curbs on access to online registries. Human Rights Watch depicted its report, two years in the making, as the first comprehensive study of sex-offender policies in the United States. It said many of the laws are of questionable value in protecting children from sex crimes, but expose offenders who have served their sentences to harassment and violence. "These are laws that weren't based on reason — they were based on a few horrific cases," said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch. "But it's very difficult for politicians to demonstrate the courage to urge changes in these laws." Iowa is among more than 20 states with similar measures. But its law banning offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and child care centers is now opposed by the state's prosecutors, who say it is counterproductive. "The residency law doesn't have any tie to safety," said Polk County Attorney John Sarcone. "They passed it with good intentions, but the reality is the vast majority of assaults against children occur from someone they know."
  • by bethany Location: Atlanta on Sep 12, 2007 at 01:10 PM
    Rights group urges less strict US sex offender laws 3 hours ago NEW YORK (AFP) — Strict US sex crime laws lead to harassment and ostracism of former offenders but do not necessarily protect children from rape or molestation, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday. The rights group said state and federal laws often violate the basic rights of people convicted of sex crimes and do not differentiate between repeat offenders and those who may have engaged in consensual sex as a teenager. "Human Rights Watch shares the public's goal of protecting children from sex abuse," said Jamie Fellner, director of the US program at Human Rights Watch. "But current laws are ill-conceived and poorly crafted." for more... http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gPAbZgz6aKEWAiVZ0tfU1g8p-o8g Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders. The 146-page report, “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States,” is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/09/06/usdom16819_txt.htm
  • by janet Location: Atlanta on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:47 PM
    A Federal judge in Akron has ruled Ohio's sex offender residency law is unconstitutional. The law says sex ofenders can not live within 1000 feet of schools, daycares and preschools. Judge James Gwin the law is flawed, because it applies to offenses before the law took effect in July of 2003. http://www.local12.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=35ebc71b-0024-47c1-9e69-a0a1086a2794 “It is sad 20th Century Commentary that society views the convicted felon as a social outcast. He has done wrong, so we rationalize and condone punishment in various forms. We express a desire for rehabilitation of the individual, while simultaneously we do everything to prevent it. Society cares little for the conditions which a prisoner must suffer while in prison, it cares even less for his future when he is released from prison. He is a marked man. We tell him to return to the norm of behavior, yet we brand him as virtually unemployable, he is required to live his normal activities severely restricted and we react with sickened wonder and disgust when he returns to a life of crime.” — Former Chief Circuit Judge Donald Lay
  • by Dolly Location: Augusta on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:29 PM
    More on what the experts say: “Therapy works for these people. Let them be punished for their crimes, let them out and let them get on with their lives. Let them work. Let them have stable homes and families and let them live in peace. Harassing them, making them move and continually punishing them does far more harm than good. A sex offender in therapy with a job and a place to live is less of a threat than one that is constantly harassed.” — Robert Shilling, Detective, Seattle, WA Crimes Against Children Division “We went from knowing where about 90 percent of them were. We’re lucky if we know where 50 to 55 percent of them are now...the law created an atmosphere that these individuals can’t find a place to live.” — Sheriff Don Zeller, Linn County, Iowa “It is sad 20th Century Commentary that society views the convicted felon as a social outcast. He has done wrong, so we rationalize and condone punishment in various forms. We express a desire for rehabilitation of the individual, while simultaneously we do everything to prevent it. Society cares little for the conditions which a prisoner must suffer while in prison, it cares even less for his future when he is released from prison. He is a marked man. We tell him to return to the norm of behavior, yet we brand him as virtually unemployable, he is required to live his normal activities severely restricted and we react with sickened wonder and disgust when he returns to a life of crime.” — Former Chief Circuit Judge Donald Lay
  • by george Location: buckhead on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 PM
    good comments: “What we're doing with sexual predator laws is creating or enlarging an exception to those constraints. We're saying the government can take away people's liberty ... based on a prediction that somebody might be dangerous in the future.” — Eric Janus, Vice Dean, William Mitchell College of Law “The more cities choose to install these ordinances, the more ex-offenders will become an exile class, sex offenders are less likely to reoffend if they're allowed to reintegrate into society, to get a job, to establish stable roots, a support network, a home, by forcing these people to be refugees, politicians are essentially making their own citizens less safe.” — William Buckman, defense attorney and national sex offender policy expert “The law was well-intentioned, but we don't see any evidence of a connection between where a person lives and where they might offend.” — Corwin R. Ritchie, Iowa County Attorneys Association executive director
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