Loitering & Sex Offenders: Creepy, But Okay?

February 21, 2014 9:10 am

by Jessica S. · 23 comments

Newly elected State Rep. Sam Moore has introduced legislation that would eliminate the crime of loitering in the State of Georgia, remove circumstances in which citizens would need to identify themselves to law enforcement officers (as it stands now, you must provide identifying information, even if it is only a first-tier encounter) and also amend circumstances for convicted sex offenders in regard to the above.

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The problem, which has just about everyone up in arms, is here:
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Because loitering would no longer be enforceable, law enforcement would be unable to prohibit convicted sex offenders from “hanging around” where minors congregate.

This is because the proper time and care of educating and informing the public on WHY the issue is important to Rep. Moore and his cause, and also what the potential ramifications are, were not given. Instead, this bill drops, Moore comes out swinging in defense of his bill and everyone is screaming he hates children. As a staunch advocate of Liberty and a person who understands the true brokenness of the criminal justice system, this is a terrible, awful, up-to-no good bill– not necessarily because of the intent, but because owe have no prohibited civil discourse.

Loitering – if not on private property- probably shouldn’t be a crime. But how do you handle the sexual registry aspect that pertains to loitering? We argue that parents have a reasonable expectation that their children will be safe when they send them to school. It’s why we hate gun-free zones. It’s why we support armed teachers in schools. If this is an attack on Republicans and conservatives who don’t necessarily support criminal justice system reforms, this is wrong.  If this is an attempt to make Republican colleagues look less conservative, this is wrong. If our goal is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, how do you circumvent the issue of protecting those who cannot protect themselves? I don’t say this often, but I do find this to be one of those special times where perhaps an alternative measure should be implemented, but at a minimum, prepared.

Let’s also talk about the national stage. What happens when someone not familiar with the Georgia Liberty movement, like, oh say CNN, picks this and blasts headlines about Republicans in Georgia who want to allow convicted sex  offenders to be around children?  Take a look at the headline from the Cherokee Tribune. Unfortunately, now the environment is too volatile and hostile for the community, and fellow legislators, to have the conversation about this legislation.

Charlie February 21, 2014 at 9:17 am

I hope by “conversation” you mean “swift kick in the ass”.

This bill is irresponsible grandstanding and needs to be publicly denounced in every official channel possible.

There are many more problems with this bill other than the one that gets the headline. I’ll save those for another post later.

But for now, Rep Moore has decided his attempt at grandstanding is more important than his party (which he loathes anyway), the House that he serves (I have an email showing he pretty much has contempt for it too) or the State which he hopes to govern.

There’s still a few weeks before qualifying. I hope the good folks of Cherokee County are taking a hard look at who’s available for 40 days a year of public service.

Jessica S. February 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

I believe that anyone can drop a bill about anything they want but they need to lay the groundwork for the reasoning and why they are doing it before doing so. Educating fellow legislators and the voters on your own principles is half the battle and should be done before the conversation is hostile.

Evaluating the repercussions is the other part of it.

This bill is about loitering and what information you need to provide to law enforcement. The repercussions deal with something entirely different and I don’t think he truly weighed the ramifications of such.

griftdrift February 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

Then he is either amazingly arrogant or has an astounding lack of common sense. Either should factor in the repercussions he’s about to receive – internally or politically. And deservedly so.

Charlie February 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

It goes beyond lack of preparation. It goes directly to whether those in his caucus want to have to defend these simple words:

“Moore, in his first week in office, has turned in a bill that would overturn the crime of loitering and make it so registered sex offenders who aren’t otherwise barred from going to schools or places children gather could go to those places freely.

“I am OK with that,”

Three Jack February 21, 2014 at 10:09 am

That’s one of those statements that will be used against Republican candidates for at least the remainder of this election cycle. Really dumb on Sam’s part to not only drop this bill so soon into his political career (if ever), but to defend it with such a flippant reply.

Jessica S. February 21, 2014 at 10:48 am

I haven’t seen anyone…anyone…defend the language of Section 3. I liked what Rep. Hightower said in the intent but failing to see past the principle and what it really means for Georgia law and the people.

John Konop February 21, 2014 at 10:15 am

In fairness to people like myself who live in Cherokee county this is how it is being reported. Also I do think my neighbors would have similar views.

……..Bill would allow sex offenders at schools……

……….Cherokee Sheriff Roger Garrison called the bill “simply insane.”

“In my 34 years of law enforcement I have never heard of such an insane law having been introduced,” Garrison said Friday. “Sexual predators are one of this country’s most violent (type of) offenders. If there’s any equal it would be an out-and-out serial killer.”

The sheriff said the thought of allowing sexual predators to “once again lurk around our parks, around our schools, around our swimming pools” is horrifying.

Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo also expressed concerns about the legislation.

“The School District is strongly opposed to any legislation that would allow predators the opportunity to endanger our students, which it appears this bill would do,” he said in an email Thursday………………

…….The sheriff said loitering laws can be valuable for law enforcement.

“It’s insane,” he said. “If you can’t check them, how are you going to know who they are? They could be wanted for murder down the street.”

Garrison gave the example of a woman who was murdered in a few years ago, after her killer had killed others before her. The man was found by police loitering near Lake Allatoona.

“We could not have checked him, because he was loitering,” he said. “He turned out to be serial killer. All the while he had killed people … (This) would have taken away our ability to stop asking who he was.”

Garrison also found fault with Moore’s argument that sex offenders off parole should be able to go anywhere, because a large majority of them aren’t on parole.

Former Cherokee GOP Chair Bob Rugg is another who is outraged over Moore’s proposal.

“I can’t imagine a bill like this even coming out of committee,” Rugg said Friday. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me to eliminate that shield of protection (for children). From the way I read his own comments about it, he (thinks he’s) protecting the Fifth Amendment right to silence. That’s silly.”………..

…….“At the end of the day, it’s all irrelevant, because the speaker of the House has a little corner for people like Mr. Moore: It’s called the ineffective corner. It’s just an embarrassment he happens to be from Cherokee County,” Garrison said……..

http://cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/24620149/article-Bill-would-allow-sex-offenders-at-schools?instance=home_lead_story

minedgamez February 21, 2014 at 10:43 am

A first-tier encounter does not require you to give identification to law enforcement. A first-tier encounter is strictly consensual, meaning if an officer walks up and asks for ID you can just say no and walk away. A second-tier stop, or investigative detention, is different and I think what you are meaning. In second-tier an officer suspects a crime is happening or has happened and that you are involved. This is shaky ground for an officer since there has to be a good bit to base this suspicion on…such as hanging out behind a closed business at midnight (i.e. loitering). Thus, if it is purely a first-tier encounter you do not have to do/say anything.

That being said, I think this bill is horribly designed and not well thought out.

Belial February 21, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Even in a second tier encounter, there is no general requirement to identify yourself to police. GSP has stated that you could be charged with obstruction if you are the witness of a crime and refuse to identify yourself, but I’m not aware of any caselaw confirming or denying that.

But, I don’t see what this law has to do with identifying yourself to LEO. This section says that if your a sex offender who owned a house within 1,000 feet of a school prior to 2006 you can prove your grandfathered in by showing ID.

I think the OP may be getting confused with the general Loitering law (16-11-36), which is the closest Georgia has to a stop and ID law. That section states that “a law enforcement officer shall, prior to any arrest for an offense under this Code section, afford the person an opportunity to dispel any alarm or immediate concern which would otherwise be warranted by requesting the person to identify himself and explain his presence and conduct.”

Patrick Mayer February 21, 2014 at 11:29 am

Jessica, have you ever taken money from the Sam Moore campaign?

Jessica S. February 21, 2014 at 11:36 am

Yes, I have. I helped him purchase bulk mail stamps for his campaign as I work across the street from the Post Office. I’m pretty sure it’s on his disclosure, and for what.
But just like I told someone else this morning, when I asked him about his principles and what ‘issues’ were important to him, he never brought this up. It’s disappointing to say the least.

Patrick Mayer February 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

His disclosure has you listed as his campaign manager.

Jessica S. February 21, 2014 at 11:44 am

That is incorrect. The box to which you are referring is my occupation and my employer at the time of filing.

Joe Pettit February 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

I am going to say that if Jessica has given money, received money, volunteered for or worked for Sam Moore’s campaign in any capacity, it is even more impressive for her to come out against this bill so quickly. There are other campaign supporters that have not been so quick to condemn the bill.

Julianne Thompson February 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

IMHO, it would be much better to address this problem by changing who is listed on the sex offender registry, not extending loitering rights to include pedophiles.

I think the real issue is the criteria of who is added to the sex offender registry. Right now, if a guy urinates behind some trees and someone sees him, because it is a public place, and he is reported, he can be arrested, convicted of indecent exposure and his name added to the sex offender registry. If a 16 year old boy has consensual sex with his 15 year old girlfriend, he can be convicted of rape (statutory), then he can be added to the sex offender registry.

To put these kinds of offenses in the same category with and giving the same stigma as pedophiles and violent rapists is just horrible. I would be fully supportive of changing the criteria of the registry, but giving loitering rights to convicted child molesters? No way!

Nathan February 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I agree. I believe the “there are many ways to skin a cat” idiom applies here. If you can accomplish a similar effect by modifying who has to be put on the sex offender registry, that would be more helpful and logical.

Raleigh February 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Good legislation or bad legislation there are 2 questions that should be ask.

First how do we as a society want to handle the “Wendy Whitakers” on the Sex offender roles? Although she is now off the role her life was basically ruined because at 17 she had a consensual sexual encounter with a just under 16 year old classmate. Don’t forget the people during the last Snow Jam that could be arrested for public urination which has landed many people so convicted on the sex offender list.

The next question can someone convicted of a sex crime ever be “Square with the house again” short of being put to death by the state. Today we continue to subject people like Wendy to conditions that no one can live under. Wouldn’t it be more merciful to go ahead and put them to death rather that kill them slowly by causing them to live in homeless hovels in the woods?

That is the prevalent feelings I’m hearing today and I thought we had gotten past the Puritan era but the Scarlett Letter mentality is alive and well.

rwlee2 February 21, 2014 at 11:59 am

All I’ll say is that I’ve done work with and supported candidates that turned out to be quite bad in the end. I don’t think we can reasonably hold Jessica responsible for Moore’s behavior here. She’s made it pretty clear she’s as appalled as the rest of us.

Moore is the one that needs to be blasted for his disgusting, morally reprehensible ideas about who deserves “rights” and who doesn’t. Frankly, I think it would do Sam Moore some good to be sat in a room and lectured about how disgusting it really is until he emerges on his knees begging for forgiveness…

…and not run again in the May primary. That, at the least, would be a good start.

GotUrBack February 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I agree with Julianne. Many so called sex crimes are not sex crimes that need to be monitored for the rest of one’s life. Lord knows I have watered my share of trees in my life and I shutter to think about the underage sex in my day.

I also agree with rwlee2 in both aspects of his post, especially about supporting bad candidates. Who among us can truly say they have never been misled or lied to by a politician? Certainly not me.

I just wish Moore had not stated to Lori Geary that he is just a redneck from Cherokee County. I and my redneck friends don’t appreciate being associated with him.

dsean February 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Does anyone actually think the sex offender registry does any good whatsoever?

I read the bill in two ways. First, it eliminates loitering as a crime. This is a good thing as loitering is essentially a misdemeanor used by law enforcement to harass disfavored people (the homeless, minority youth, etc). Second, it starts to walk back some of the idiocy of the sex offender registry which only serves as a permanent mark against people, the vast majority of whom have done little to no harm to another person (only 4-6% of registrants are considered “dangerous”).

Ultimately though, this is a sensationalized take on the bill. It removes loitering as an offence to everyone, not just sex offenders. Yes, it has some ameliorating effects on the conditions of registrants, but that’s pretty clearly not the goal of the legislation.

seenbetrdayz February 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I do like being able to look up my neighborhood and see who around me is a registered sex offender. But then I get really depressed, because of all those digital push-pins that show up on the map. (Really? That many? Remind me never to have kids.)

gcp February 22, 2014 at 11:37 am

I urge all to read 42-1-12(e) and see the sex offender registry qualifications and also read 16-11-36 Loitering or prowling. You will see that it’s not easy to get on the registry and there is a process for removal (42-1-19). You will also note that “Loitering or prowling” requires a two- step process to make an arrest; no easy threshold here. I also urge all to look at the registry run by the GBI and note the offenders and their crimes and see if you feel comfortable with your children interacting with these individuals. Once again do your own research before you agree with this novice politician.

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