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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.

Originally posted to aggressiveprogressive on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:06 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (26+ / 0-)

    for having to buy a NY paper in order to get my local news.

    "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

    by aggressiveprogressive on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 07:57:56 AM PDT

    •  That's the way the system is set up. (5+ / 0-)

      The collateral sanctions inflicted on persons convicted of even minor crimes are such that it prevents them from ever again becoming productive members of society.

      I certainly don't consider sexual abuse of a child a minor crime, but even someone convicted of possession of marijuana faces suspension of driving privileges in many states, and they lose the ability to receive financial aid for education, housing assistance, or even food stamps.  Branded for life by the criminal charges, they face difficulty in finding any sort of gainful employment that allows them to make a living.

      We take away someone's livelihood and future, leaving them with no opportunities and nothing to lose.  Then we wonder why we have a permanent criminal sub-culture?  What other choice are we leaving these people?

      It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams

      by Red no more on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Moral of the story (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TruthandHope, Samulayo, Audri, MsWings

    Don't abuse children.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:11:18 AM PDT

  •  This law is bullshit, people should be punished (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sdgeek

    and released.  A second offense against a child should be life anyway so this shouldn't be an issue.

    I'm gonna see some thangs I ain't NEVER seen b'fore!

    by chalatenango on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:20:41 AM PDT

    •  Yes, but the entire notion of mandatory (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      janinsanfran, philimus, KnowVox

      sentencing is what is bullshit. This particular law is just one blatent example of why. This situation is very much like the Genarlow Wilson case I mentioned. In both cases the judge is precluded from taking circumstances of the case into account and must impose to very onerous penalty blindly.

      I didn't go into much detail on the Wilson case because its been diaried and I presume we all know the basic facts in that one.

      "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

      by aggressiveprogressive on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:27:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know of a similar story (5+ / 0-)

    Somebody I know was convicted a number of years ago for endangering the welfare of a minor (there was NOTHING sexual involved - it involved alcohol only).

    When he got out of prison, he was homeless and could only get minimum wage type jobs.  So a lot of times he wound up sleeping in parks and so on.  At some point his probation officer got wind of that and violated him, for which he served 6 more months in jail.

    The irony is that it kept him away from his son - the minor involved in the first place.

    Serving life on the installment plan for homelessness: our system is a disgrace.

    "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

    by New Deal democrat on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:30:06 AM PDT

    •  What a great country we live in- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aggressiveprogressive, djpat

      Where sharing a beer with my adult son is illegal, but sharing a prison cell with him is justice.  How do you think the founding fathers would feel about that?

      America shares it's legal drinking age of 21 with five countries:  Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Egypt.   Are we done fighting the fundamentalists over there? We have some work to do right here in the Muslim States of America.

      It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams

      by Red no more on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 09:05:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right now in Washington State (0+ / 0-)

    The Republicans are using a case of a murdered 12 year old girl and a possible link to a second murder by career sex offender(and a illegal alien, which is even more icing on the cake)to try and rebuild their tattered election prospects in '08 to get a special session to deal with the flaws in the sex offender laws.  Smartly the Gov has declined and will use more reasoned approach, to it.

    Let em eat jellybeans, Let em eat cake, Let em eat shit, cause they can make it here anymore-James McMurtry

    by Mr Stagger Lee on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 08:34:34 AM PDT

  •  Important to tell this story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KnowVox

    It's true -- our society has taken to using mandatory "enhancements" to throw people out of the normal society without legal process. One thing triggers another and pretty soon ... gone away for good.

    Here in California, we have the country's worsy "3 strikes" law, creating a huge population of geriatric prisoners and a corollary group of well compensated, politically powerful prison guards. None of this protects society.

    •  Boosting the prison population (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      operculum, MsWings

      to levels that our government cannot sustain leads to the "need" for privatising the penal system. At the price of freedom for pot-smokers and homeless people and the insane, the investor class can earn big profits.

      But that's a story for another diary.

      "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

      by aggressiveprogressive on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 09:23:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perversion of justice removes deterrent effect (0+ / 0-)

    One more aspect to this horrendous law: it removes any incentive to comply with the law. Basically, such a homeless person can commit nearly any crime except murder without fear of repercussion. If he is going away for life anyway, what's left to fear?

    I'm proud of this gentleman for not giving in to that temptation, and still apparently remaining a law-abiding citizen.

    Army 1st Lt. Ehren T. Watada, Lt. Cdr USN Matthew Diaz, SPC Eli Israel: true American heroes.

    by sdgeek on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 09:29:24 AM PDT

  •  Statistics (0+ / 0-)

    Impeachment is not a Constitutional crisis, impeachment is the cure for a Constitutional crisis. John Nichols

    by Audri on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 09:56:30 AM PDT

  •  I can only imagine how the Rethuglicans ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aggressiveprogressive

    ... would frame this: "Well, at least now the homeless guy gets three squares and a roof over his head."

    Don't get me wrong. I'm all for punishing anyone found guilty of abusing or molesting children in particular, but this seems to be a subject where hysteria rules pretty quickly.

    I remember an interview I heard on NPR about a year or so ago, where the reporter was talking with a convicted sex offender whose only crime was public urination (he was peeing off a balcony at someone's party), but he was charged with indecent exposure instead of disorderly conduct or something like that. Since he had to register as a sex offender, he could no longer find decent jobs. The reporter was interviewing him on a break from his latest dead-end, minimum-wage gig: an amusement park ride operator coming into close quarters with hundreds of children every day.

    If that is not totally insane, what is? I mean, if the guy really was a pedophile, the legal system helped put him in a prime hunting ground. How crazy is that?

    "The lunatic is on the grass,
    the lunatic is on the grass,
    collecting games, and daisy chains and laughs,
    got to keep the loonies on the path ..." - Pink Floyd/Roger Waters, 1973.

  •  relevant quote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aggressiveprogressive

    The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
     --  Henry Mencken

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 12:58:03 PM PDT

    •  Excellent point (0+ / 0-)

      Certainly my point is not to defend child predators or sex offenders, it is to defend justice. And justice is not served by this sort of law that results in random, widespread imprisonment with no sense of proportionality to the offense.

      "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

      by aggressiveprogressive on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 03:06:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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