Less Than a Month Left till Sex Offender Laws Toughen; the New Law Limits the Number of Places Offenders May Be

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Byline: JEREMY CRAIG

Starting this week, sheriff's deputies in Georgia are putting hundreds of sex offenders on notice:

You have until Saturday, July 1, to get away from minors and children.

That's when House Bill 1059, signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to toughen sex offender regulations, takes effect. The law mandates that sex offenders may not live, loiter or work within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility, school, church or any area where minors congregate, including school bus stops and public swimming pools.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office, for example, will mail out notices to its sex offenders this week, and Richmond County Sheriff's deputies will probably warn them in person, officials said.

"We're basically telling them that if they are in violation, they have until June 30 or charges will be filed," said Capt. Steve Morris, a spokesman for the Columbia County department.

Law enforcement officers from East Georgia met in Columbia County last week to formulate their game plan.

"We were trying to get a better understanding of how it will impact each county and try to assure that we're all singing from the same sheet of music," Morris said.

For counties like Columbia, it's not going to be a big tax on manpower to ensure the new, more stringent rules are followed, Morris said. …