You Remember How They Used To Say That Things Would Go On Your “Permanent Record”?

Ken AshfordCrime, Sex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

In one case, it's frighteningly true.

Georgia law tries to keep sexual offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility.

Noble idea.

The problem is what Georgia deems a "sex offender".

Wendy Whitaker was 17, a sophomore in high school.  And one day, she performed consensual oral sex on another sophomore.  The other student was 16, five months shy of turning 17.  They were caught.  Wendy was charged with the crime of sodomy under Georgia law.  She pled guilty and had five years probation.

Because Wendy, at age 17, had engaged in a sexual offense with a minor (the 16 year old), she has to register with Georgia's "sex offender" database.

Wendy is 29 now.  She's never has engaged in any sexual crimes since then.  In fact, Georgia modified its "sex offender" laws in 2006, adding a "Romeo and Juliet" clause.  The "Romeo and Juliet" clause basically states that teenagers of like age who commit sodomy are not required to register as sex offenders. 

But that clause was made retrooactive only to 2001.  Wendy's "act" took place twelve years ago, in 1996, so she must register as a sex offender for life.  That means her face will be on the internet for life as a "sex offender", she is required by law to notify all her employers, etc.

And, as stated, she can't live within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility, pools, gyms, or other places where minors congregate.

Wendy is married now.  She and her husband have a house within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility.  She believed it was okay, because there is an exception for homeowners (basically, it is unconstitutional for the government to take your property, even if you are a registered "sex offender", and Wendy's name is on the deed).

Long story short, there is a 29 year old woman in Georgia who is facing eviction – on Thanksgiving no less — because twelve years ago she gave a blowjob to a fellow high school student.

Something went wrong with the system, I would say.  The Southern Center for Human Rights is on the case.

The Georgia sex offender law is extreme in other ways, too.  It prohibits church volunteering in any form.  It prohibits registrants from giving full voice to their faith by singing in the church choir, playing the piano, or reading scripture before a church congregation.  Stupid.  Even for a real sex offender (which Wendy Whitaker is not), I'm not so sure it is a good idea to isolate them from the rehabilitative influence of faith-based organizations.

Georgia needs to look at this.