Editor, Friday’s article about our Senate trying to pass a “compromised sexual offender law” is another striking example of our legislature at work. We need more new laws like we need more politicians to make them.
The one thing we don’t need is another law that will be unenforceable.When our legislature reacted in knee-jerk fashion and made a new law saying sex offenders could not live near school-bus stops, no one bothered to look and see where school buses stopped. Since they stop every 100 yards in our county, sexual offenders can not live anywhere in our county.
Naturally, some of our legislature’s lawyer friends filed actions in court challenging this, so here we are with another law on the books that can not be enforced.
This new effort is exactly the same. Lets look at the basis for his action. A sex offender from another state (who apparently did not bother to obey Georgia’s Sex Offender Laws already on the book and register), takes a picture of someone who is at work. Well lets see; If they are at work, chances are they are not a child. Maybe a young adult, but I have not seen too many 5 year olds working at local restaurants. Last time I looked, a person in a public place has no expectation of privacy and someone taking a picture in a public place is not committing a crime. Since the person was working, can it be assumed the person had a sign on his back saying “child under the age of 16.” Probably not. So how was the picture taker to know, and how are the police to know when a citizen reports someone took a picture of another person in a public place? Sex offenders do not wear signs either.
Since it is not a crime to take a picture in a public place, the police have no legitimate right to stop every person who takes pictures and demand identification to see if they are a sex offender. Imagine the resistance, arguments, and downright refusals of reporters,vacationers and citizens when they are stopped by police and ordered to identify themselves because they happen to like photography or carry a camera.
What if the person has a digital camera or cell phone with a camera. Do the police under the proposed law have a right to detain the person, obtain a search warrant, and examine the phone or camera to see if they actually did take a picture?
In the Georgia criminal statutes, minors are referred to as juveniles, minors and children. Unfortunately, depending on what portion of the statute you read, this can be a person who is less than 18, a person who has not reached 17, a person less than 16, or even a person older than these numbers if they are in custody of the state. And that only applies if they have not married or been emancipated.
A law that does not clearly define the parameters under which it can be enforced, is just another wasted piece of legislation. Let’s expend some effort and taxpayer time repairing some of the antiquated laws we have on the books and giving our law enforcement officers something they can enforce.
I do not condone the behavior of sex offenders. I doubt many of us do. But wasting everyone’s time with another law that will not survive even the most basic challenge is not the way to handle the problem.