Tougher Laws for Georgia Sex Offenders May Be on the Way

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Lawmakers supporting the sex crime bill say they want to send a message to sex offenders. They say by implementing tougher laws, it will show that sex crimes won't be tolerated in the state of Georgia.

David Craven was convicted of child molestation this week and sentenced to life plus 50 years. If passed, a bill aimed at changing the state's sex crime laws will set heavy minimum sentences for sex offenders like Craven.

SGT Rachelle Denmark of the Thomasville Police Department says, "Sex-based offenders, child molestation, rape; 10 years isn't enough for such a brutal crime."

The bill would change the minimum mandatory sentence from 10 years to 25 years for rape, aggravated child molestation and other sex-based charges.

Tommy Wells, a Georgia resident, says, "They are a menace to society and I'd hate to think if I had a small child, someone did that to that child of mine, that would be dreadful."

Along with longer sentences, once released, sexual predators would be tracked using GPS locators as long as they live in Georgia.

SGT Denmark adds, "That can be a very effective tool for the parole officers to keep track, and if they start doing repeat behaviors, because that's something we need to look for."

The bill also bans convicted sex offenders from working within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, or anywhere minors gather. Lawmakers say it's a way to drive sex offenders out of the Peach State and keep them out.

Some lawmakers opposing the bill say it will take power away from judges and prosecutors in respect to setting punishments. Others say the prison system is overpopulated and the bill would be too costly, forcing the state to build more prisons.

The sex crime bill was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives and it now awaits voting by the Senate.