Homeless sex offender faces life term in Augusta
New Georgia law requires him to register his address
By SHAILA DEWAN
New York Times News Service
Published on: 08/04/07
A sex offender who was unable to register his address with state officials because he was homeless is facing life in prison for violating a new registry law that politicians in Georgia have hailed as the nation's toughest.
The offender, Larry W. Moore Jr. of Augusta, was convicted in North Carolina in 1994 of indecent liberty with a child, a felony. This week he was convicted for the second time of violating a requirement that he register. Under the new law, a second violation carries an automatic life sentence.
"We have suggested that it is cruel and unusual punishment as it relates to the facts of this case," said Sam B. Sibley Jr., the state public defender in Augusta, whose office represents Moore and is planning an appeal on his behalf.
The law requires offenders to register their address and forbids them to live or work within 1,000 feet of not only schools and day care centers but also churches, swimming pools and school bus stops. It expanded the definition of a sex offender and raised penalties for violating registry requirements.
Homelessness is not an acceptable excuse.
"One of the requirements when you become a sex offender is you have to have an address," said Sgt. Ray Hardin of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office in Augusta.
Hardin said enforcement of the law required a dedicated investigator, a global positioning system and, each time an offender moves, hours of paperwork. At least 15 sex offenders have been arrested because of homelessness since the law took effect in July 2006, according to documents gathered through pretrial proceedings in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.