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Judge drops block on bus stop law

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper chose not to extend a temporary ban on a new Georgia law that prevents sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school bus stops, according to Morris News Service reports.

His earlier ruling had blocked that portion of the law which opponents claim will render vast tracts of the state's residential areas off limits to the 12,300 sex offenders in Georgia.

The 34 sex offenders living in McDuffie County would also be affected by the law, said Sheriff's Department Maj. Ronnie Williamson. He added that the next course of action for McDuffie County law enforcement is to wait and see if the court battle will continue.

"You're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place," Maj. Williamson said. "You go out and start telling these people to move, and then an injunction is filed. Or do you just kind of stay in limbo. Probably what we're going to do is stay in limbo."

The reason for this newest ruling stems from the fact that Judge Cooper couldn't find where local school boards had officially designated school bus stops, Morris News Service reported. According to school board records, there are 1,140 bus stops in McDuffie County.

"There's just so much unclear about what is the definition of an approved bus stop," Maj. Williamson said. "...There's a lot of issues that still, I think, have got to be litigated to get clarification on it before we start telling people to pack up and move."

The other provisions of the law - which went into affect on July 1 - include prohibiting sex offenders from living, working and loitering within 1,000 feet of anywhere children congregate. It also increases sentences for offenders and requires certain ones to wear monitoring equipment.

Web posted on Thursday, July 27, 2006

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