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Rights group sues to block Georgia sex-offender law

[JURIST] A civil rights group has sued the state of Georgia [JURIST news archive], arguing that a new law designed to protect children from sex crimes all but forbids convicted offenders from living in urban and suburban areas. The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) [advocacy website] filed a complaint [PDF] on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] in Rome, asking the court to certify the lawsuit as a class action and to issue an injunction blocking the enactment of House Bill 1059 [legislative materials], which takes effect on July 1. The statute, in part, provides that:

(a) No individual required to register pursuant to Code Section 42-1-12 shall reside or loiter within 1,000 feet of any child care facility, church, school, or area where minors congregate. ...
(b)(1) No individual who is required to register under Code Section 42-1-12 shall be employed by any child care facility, school, or church or by any business or entity that is located within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, a school, or a church.
A violation is a felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison. The SCHR contends that the law violates a number of provisions in the US Constitution [text], including the Ex Post Facto, Takings and Due Process clauses, the Eighth Amendment, and the rights to freedom of association and interstate travel, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 [text].

The lead plaintiff is a 26-year-old criminal justice student who, at age 17, engaged in a consensual sex act with a 15-year-old, according to an SCHR press release [text]. Further, the press release says, "the sheer quantity of school bus stops throughout Georgia makes it extremely difficult to find housing that meets the requirements of HB 1059." A spokeswoman for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) [official website], who signed the bill, said the governor would "vigorously" defend the law [Rome News-Tribune report]. AP has more.

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