ajc.com: Ga. Supreme Court rebuffs sex offender registry challenge - requires some people who have not committed sex crimes to register as sex offenders..
The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a provision of the state's sex-offender registry law that requires some people who have not committed sex crimes to register as sex offenders. Under the law, those convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor must register as a sex offender, whether or not a sexual crime was involved.
The challenge was brought by Jake Rainer, convicted in 2000 in Gwinnett County of a drug robbery. Rainer, then 18, and his co-defendants picked up a 17-year-old girl who was going to sell them some marijuana. Instead of buying it, they drove her to a cul-de-sac, took the pot and left her. Rainer pleaded guilty to robbery and false imprisonment. Because of the latter conviction, he has had to register as a sex offender, meaning he cannot live or work within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate, such as parks, schools and swimming pools.
Writing for a 5-2 majority, Justice Harold Melton rejected Rainer's arguments that the provision, as applied to him, was cruel and unusual punishment. Sex offender registry laws, Melton wrote, "are regulatory, not punitive, in nature." "Because the registration requirements themselves do not constitute punishment, it is of no consequence whether or not one has committed an offense that is 'sexual' in nature before being required to register," Melton wrote.
(this has long been a bogus argument. Anyone who knows anything about these registries knows fully-well how punitive and destructive they are in the lives of those who must publicly register)
The law also advances a legislative goal of requiring the state to inform the public for purposes of protecting children from those who would harm them, Melton said.
Writing in dissent, Chief Justice Carol Hunstein said that although registration as a sex offender may not be considered punishment, "it is no mere administrative formality or minor inconvenience."
Overall, this decision should actually be viewed positively. Flooding the registries with robbers, kidnappers and other violent criminals will only help destroy the registries in the end.