As a native Georgian, I have long been accustomed to seeing ridiculously myopic efforts to appear hyper-virtuous or tough-on-crime or pro-gun result in very bad legislation being passed into law by our state legislature. Georgia's notorious Voter ID law, once ruled unconstitutional, will be back on the books for the 2008 elections. The prior ruling was tossed out on a technicality, rather than a substantive basis. The ignomineous plight of Genarlow Wilson, sentenced to 10 years in prison for (gasp) getting a hummer from a 15-year old when he was 17 is equally unjustified.
Yes, Georgia, like our nation generally, is prison-crazed. The answer to every ill. But now, I stand stunned at what the simpletons under The Golden Dome have wrought. That story, below the fold-
Today's New York Times details the story of Larry W. Moore, Jr., who currently resides in Augusta, Georgia. I could not find coverage of this story in my Atlanta Journal Constitution. Mr. Moore is a convicted sex offender, having been convicted 13 years ago of taking "indecent liberty" with a child.
Georgia recently added new penalties to a statute requiring all convicted sex offenders to register their place of residence. The new law places a stringent sentence upon those who are twice found to run afoul of this measure: Life in Prison.
In the 13 years since his original conviction, Mr. Moore's only legal violation was a 2005 charge of missing an address reporting deadline. He plead guilty under the less stringent law then in place and was placed on probation for 2 years.
Records show that in March 2006, the month he got out of jail, he registered twice, according to officials at the public defender’s office. He registered again in April and June, and twice in July, when the new law took effect. He was left with only two places in Augusta, both hotels, that met the law’s requirements.
Mr. Moore, who worked at Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, could not afford the hotels for long, his lawyers say. An investigator at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office told the court that when he checked several months later, Mr. Moore had moved out.
As a homeless person, we might ask why he did not go to a local shelter and use that address.
Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the human rights center, said she had scoured the state for homeless shelters that would accept male sex offenders and could find only one, which was full.
So working a minimum wage job, unable to afford rent in a location that does not violate state laws about where a convicted sex-offender may live and unable to stay in a shelter, Mr. Moore has now been arrested for a second failure to register. The State of Georgia will now send him to prison for life. A War on Crime has become a War on the Impoverished. Very sad. Very wrong.