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"I'm Scared" 

Sex Offender Fears New Law

Joe Legge, WDEF-TV News 12, Jun 30, 2006 

Thousands of sex offenders living in Georgia may soon be forced to moved. That's because Georgia's tough new sex offender law takes affect tomorrow.

Here are the key points: The new law stiffens minimum prison sentences, requires certain offenders to wear electronic monitoring devices, and prohibits offenders from living within a thousand-feet of places children gather.

News 12 talked with a North Georgia offender to get a point of view you seldom hear. "John," whose real name has been changed to conceal his identity, served six-years in prison after being convicted of a sex crime with a minor in 1994. He says 

"when you see people, you watch their face and watch their expression and think do they know?"

He's rebuilt his life... Getting married, buying a house, and landing a good job. Now, John's life stands to be torn apart again, thanks to a new Georgia law. 

"It's just disbelief, and anger... we're doing everything we know to do and complying with every directive that we've been given."

Starting Saturday, Georgia will prohibit sex offenders from living, working, and loitering within a thousand feet of anywhere children gather... like a school, church, park, or even a school bus stop. These rules will force thousands of sex offenders to relocate. 

John says "we will have to move and we don't have any type of time frame they haven't told us, so we're kind of sitting on the edge of a fault zone... sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing and my family, we are looking for other places."

Opponents of the new law fear it could backfire, prompting offenders to go underground. If they face 10 to 30 years in prison for violating the provision, some may feel they have nothing to lose by not reporting. But Georgia's Attorney General believes the safety of children outweighs any inconvenience to offenders.

"You live by this, this is something that everyday you think about... you think about the people you've hurt." 

John agrees society needs protection from those who can't be reformed. He feels remorse for his crime and just wants peace... Which he says always seems to be out of grasp.

A judge issued an injunction blocking the part of the law that prohibits sex offenders from living near a school bus stop. The Attorney General appealed that decision today. A hearing on the issue takes place July 11th in Atlanta.

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