• Sex offenders sue Georgia sheriff over ‘no trick-or-treating' signs in yards

    By: Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. - Police are preparing to put up signs for a second year outside sex offenders' homes in Butts County to warn trick-or-treaters about what they say is potential danger. 

    Now, some of those registered offenders are suing, saying the signs are a violation of privacy. 

    Channel 2's Lauren Pozen was in Butts County. A judge will decide if those signs can go up again this year on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. 

    The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Macon, asks the court to order the agency to stop the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that read: “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG.”

    Deputies put up some signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint.


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    The lawsuit argues that Georgia's sex offender registry statute does not require signs to be placed at the homes of offenders and the sheriff's actions violates multiple legal and constitutional rights and deputies going onto offenders' property is trespassing. 

    Some neighbors in Butts County think the signs are a good idea. 

    "Everybody needs to know," said neighbor Janie Bruce. "It is just a matter of protecting your family."

    "I understand that all sexual offenders are not the same, but as an overall consensus, I believe that we need them," Cassie Kelly, a local mother, said. "There are crazy people in this world and it's not like it used to be. You just have to keep your kids close."

    Pozen reached out to Long, but he did not want to comment until after the hearing. He did post on Facebook that regardless of what the judge rules Thursday, he will do everything within the law to protect the children of the community. 

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation tracks sex offenders' addresses. You can check a map that has a county-by-county breakdown. 

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