It feels as though we are under siege. It feels like there is a disconnect between what is stated in the law, versus what is being applied via such law. Specifically, OCGA 17-10-1.
The first sentence of the law reads:
(2) Active probation supervision shall terminate in all cases no later than two years from the commencement of active probation supervision…
And it continues. There are only two exceptions to this: if you were convicted under the street gang terrorism clause. The other is if you haven’t paid your fines or fees.
“Shall” is the key word here. The word shall generally means that it is mandatory. Mandatory doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room as to whether something can be applied with discretion. The only part in the above sentence that would afford discretion is ‘no later than 2 years’. Which would therefore mean, that no later than 2 years. Seriously, if you’re a registrant and you’ve gone past 2 years, you should absolutely be on unsupervised probation.
Here’s what is rubbing me the wrong way, and in a big way. In one county, I am told that probation is aware of the law signed by the Governor. However, they aren’t going to follow it. Just like that. That’s ballsy to say the least.
In another county, as soon as the law was signed to go into affect July 1st, the judge supervising in that district wrote a standing order stating that registrants aren’t eligible.
Lastly, in yet another county, I hear that probation is having all of the registrants sign a waiver. I do not have the details behind this waiver yet. I am imagining that the waiver says that ‘You are aware of the law, but you aren’t afforded the privilege of the law”.
The process written in the law is that it is on probation to take YOU to court to keep you ON probation. Not the other way around. If you think you’re supposed to go hire a lawyer to remove you from supervision, you have it backwards. It reads that you are to come off of active probation supervision UNLESS you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Meaning, missing curfew, maybe you’ve failed a drug test, etc. But if you’re following the rules, you’ve gone to treatment if required, etc. If you’re doing the right things, then you should (no later than 2 years) be unsupervised.
Think about it in the way a court proceeding works: You are innocent until proven guilty. It is on the prosecution to provide evidence that you are guilty. This is the same thing. The burden of proof isn’t on you to show that you are a good person. It is on them to show that you are a bad person, or at least not following the rules.
I have a recording from someone that tried to go about it this way. He’s been on probation now for about 7 years. He tells me that he tried to take them to court to be removed from supervised probation. This is an individual with no violations. Pays the fines, etc. The probation officer says to the judge, Mr. “So and so” is doing very well on probation. We don’t think there should be any change to his status. The judge agreed.
The question I have is how do they think that this is OK? Aren’t we a nation of laws? Don’t we enter into a civic contract with society to follow the laws. That we understand if we break the law, there are consequences? If you are affected by what you’re reading here, you broke a law. You are being punished for not following the law. You were convicted, either by plea or jury, of breaking the law. Doesn’t probation have to follow laws as well? Aren’t they given the authority to do their job by a law? If they are given the authority by a law, don’t they also have to follow a law that limits their authority. They can’t just arbitrarily not follow something because they don’t like it.
Where did Governor Deal get the law? He received a bill from the legislators of Georgia. Where did these men and women come from? Who are they? They are the people that the citizen of the state of Georgia elected to represent them. We are a representative government after all. Georgia is similar to The United States of America. They elect the people to represent them at the capital.
Then by proxy, the people of the state of Georgia decided that these men and women would best represent them. It is then the will of the people that after 2 years, all probationers, except the couple conditions, shall be removed from active probation supervision. If probation wishes to have an individual on probation longer than the 2 years, it is then on probation to have some form of court hearing in which the judge extends the time of supervision beyond the 2 years. The final caveat here is no later than 5 years of supervised probation.
How many people are affected by this? It seems very reasonable to think that of the 21,000 people on the registry in the state of Georgia, that half are on some form of supervision. And of those 10,000 people, that half live in counties where this law isn’t being abided by. That leaves approximately 5,000 that are having their liberties suppressed.
How do we move forward to fix this? We have to stand up, as a group, and challenge them. It would appear that they are doing this because they have no resistance. They are saying “we do what we want because no one is pushing back”. You stand up to the prison bully simply because they are less likely to push on someone that pushes back. We are currently the group of people that isn’t pushing back. We shouldn’t be that group. We should pick our battles strategically. We should focus on ones that have the most impact, and are the most cost efficient. Find the point where we maximize our dollars and gain the most quality of life for registrants. This seems like the fight.
We are going to begin fundraising to fight this in the very near future. Please leave comments on the site.