Sex offenders in one Georgia county are furious after the sheriff had signs placed on their homes urging the entire neighborhood to stay away. With Halloween fast approaching, the sheriff says his warnings are necessary.
Butts County Sheriff Gary Long is now being sued by a group of convicted sex offenders who claim that the law enforcement officer violated their civil rights.
The “community safety message” posted on doors of offenders’ homes reads “no trick-or-treat at this address,” and is headed by a bright red warning sign.
For parents who don’t want their children to visit sex offenders on Halloween, this could be a crucial bit of information.
The targeted sex offenders disagree.
“I’m just not sure that this kind of action makes your kids any safer,” Mark Yurachek, lead attorney for the sex offenders, told WAGA-TV.
According to Yurachek, the signs are an attack on constitutional rights.
To place the signs on doors would require trespassing, the lawyer says. Since the warnings are not required by law, he argues that his clients should not be forced to keep them on their homes.
“They are individuals who have been brave enough to not be afraid to let the public know that they are registered sex offenders,” Yurachek said, “but are also not willing to tolerate this unlawful action by the sheriff.”
The Butts County Sheriff’s Office placed similar signs last year, seemingly with no trouble.
In the wake of the announcement of the lawsuit, Sheriff Long took to Facebook to make it clear that he will not stop defending the community’s children.
“The sex offenders have asked a Federal Judge to stop my Office from placing these signs this year,” Long wrote. “This Thursday, we will argue to the Federal Court that we are protecting our children and following Georgia Law by placing these signs.”
“Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.”
Long insists he is only following Georgia law and protecting the county’s children.
“We just want to eliminate any possibility that any of these children in our county becoming prey to a sexual predator,” the sheriff said.
While the sheriff is allowed to keep a list of sex offenders and post it in various places, Yurachek says the law does not allow Long to go door-to-door in the neighborhood announcing where these people live.
“I understand that there are a lot of people who think this is a great idea, who think ‘Yeah this protects my kids,'” Yurachek said, “but what they should be thinking about is ‘Does this protect my rights?'”
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