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And I think we need to ask ourselves, how is that law protecting children?
She's given up smoking and drinking and even picked up a college degree while in prison.Stephen Bright is the center's president and senior counsel. But I'm required to know where they are, and I'm required to track them, and I will be unable to do that.STEPHEN BRIGHT (President and Senior Counsel, Southern Center for Human Rights): It is not making our children any safer, and it's making it impossible for a lot of people to find a place to live and, importantly, to find a place to work. BRIGHT: The sponsor of the legislation made it quite clear that the goal was to make it virtually impossible for people on the sex offender registry to live anywhere in Georgia, because there's virtually nowhere in the state where there's housing that is not within a thousand feet of a school bus stop. O'BRIEN: And, says Brown, sex offenders on the run are not likely to show up for required counseling or other treatment.The case inspired the General Assembly in neighboring Georgia to rewrite its sex offender law. While no one quarrels with the legislature's goal of protecting children, critics say the law is so broad it is unfair and may not even work.The Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta has gone to court to block the law.All three of these people were going to be evicted from their nursing home because it was within a thousand feet of a church.
Never mind that none of them could get up and walk across the room, let alone walk the fifth of a mile to a church to molest a child.No one opposes the intent to protect children, but in Georgia its new sex offender law is under attack by civil rights and religious activists -- among them 150 church leaders -- who say the law is so broad and so harsh it is unfair. TIM O'BRIEN: Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was asleep in her bed on a February night two years ago when police say she was abducted, repeatedly raped, and then murdered by a neighbor, 46-year-old John Couey. And when you get out, you're going to be electronically monitored for the rest of your life in Georgia, and there are going to be restrictions on where you can both live and work.What outraged many was that Couey, a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal record and on parole, was allowed to work on a construction project at the Florida elementary school Jessica had attended. General Assembly): Our goal when we began that process was to draft, craft, and pass the toughest laws on sexual offenders of children and minors in the country. O'BRIEN: Specifically, registered sex offenders are not permitted to live or work within a thousand feet of a playground, a church, a school, or even a school bus stop.They take your name, your address, put a map to my house, stuff like that, you know. Those are teenagers messing around, which may or may not be good, but it's certainly not a crime. WHITAKER (registering at Mc Duffie County Sheriff's Office): Hi, I'm here to register.O'BRIEN: When Whitaker went to register at the Mc Duffie County sheriff's office last month, 10 years after the offense, she thought the end might be in sight. WHITAKER (to O'Brien): I wasn't aware, but here it says, "You will remain on the register for life and must register with the sheriff for life." I did not -- so that means everybody for life? O'BRIEN: The state of Georgia has branded Wendy Whitaker a sex offender for life.And there's increasing concern about that, and so across the country there were increased numbers of rather tough laws. I mean, every politician wants to show they're tough on crime.