To maintain compliance with Georgia laws, registered sex offenders cannot live, loiter or work within 1,000 feet of child-care facilities, schools, churches, or other places where children gather.
For some offenders, that means homelessness if they cannot “find another place to live that complies with the law,” reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A group of nine homeless sex offenders are camping in the woods near an office park in Marietta. The site, according to the AJC
, was “recommended by probation officers as a last stop for homeless sex offenders.”
Marque Miechurski, 30, a convicted child molester living in the camp was quoted as saying "The state did tell me this was a compliant address." And futher noted that “he and the other offenders can’t wait to finish their probation and reintegrate into society. We want to move on with our lives.”
The manager of Georgia’s sex offender administration unit, Ahmed Holt, was quoted as saying:
The camp is a ‘last resort’ for homeless offenders who can’t find another place to live that complies with the law. [P]robation officers direct them to the outpost if other options fail, such as transferring to another county or state or sending them to a relative’s place that meets the requirements. Homeless shelters and halfway houses are often not an option because of the restrictions that bar them from being near children.
One of the sex offenders camping at the site, Levertice Johnson, 52, is represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights. After being unable to find a job or pay for the $60-a-week rent at a shelter in Fulton County, Johnson was directed to the campsite.
According to the AJC
, Sara Totonchi, public policy director for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights said the following:
I don’t think it was the Georgia Legislature’s intention to render people homeless as a result of this law; however, that’s the consequence of their actions. This result does nothing to make women and children more safe, and only makes law enforcement’s role more complicated. The center has filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court challenging residency and employment restrictions for sex offenders in Georgia. Wednesday is the deadline to submit briefs to the judge.
A representative of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office indicated that of the 375 sex offenders in Cobb County, 13 are listed as homeless.