Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

Evictions from Nursing Homes Stopped Sheriffs Agree not to Force Elderly and Severely Disabled People onto the Streets

10-30-2006 Georgia:

ATLANTA , GEORGIA, HB 1059, Georgia’s sex offender legislation, has taken another hit as Sheriffs in several counties agree not to enforce a portion of the law.

Two weeks ago, lawyers from the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on behalf of nine elderly and/or severely disabled people on the registry. This Motion specifically addressed the provision of HB 1059 that prevents people on the registry from living within 1,000 feet of a church. Because of their advanced age and/or physical condition, these plaintiffs are not a danger to anyone, yet the residency restrictions of HB 1059 make no exception for them.

Attorneys and the Sheriffs in the counties where the plaintiffs live have reached agreements that elderly and disabled individuals named in the Motion will not be evicted from their homes, nursing homes, and hospice care facilities. These agreements will allow these elderly and ill people to live the remainder of their lives with dignity, receiving appropriate medical care and attention to their conditions.

“Once again, the Georgia Legislature’s ‘one size fits all’ policy for the treatment of people on the registry takes us into the realm of absurdity,” states Sarah Geraghty, an attorney at SCHR representing the plaintiffs. “Sheriffs are now required by law to evict Alzheimer’s patients and the terminally ill from their nursing homes if these facilities are within 1/5 of a mile of a church. Never mind that some of these patients cannot even stand up, or walk without assistance.”

One of the people affected by the ban on living within 1000 feet of a church is John Doe I, who has end-stage heart disease and a prognosis of six months or less to live. He requires 24-hour medical care and is spending his last days in a secured nursing unit. Another person who will no longer face the threat of eviction is John Doe VII, age 81, who has Alzheimer’s disease and requires 24-hour care and is never left alone. As the Alzheimer’s disease progresses, Mr. Doe is losing the power of speech and cannot recognize family members.

“Forcing a terminally ill man with less than six months to live out of his hospice care facility because he resides within 1,000 feet of a church is irrational and does nothing to promote children’s safety,” continues Geraghty. “Members of the Georgia Legislature must own up to the fact that they wrote a bad law, and remove this church restriction.”

Editorial Boards of Georgia newspapers have been questioning the usefulness of HB 1059 in light of the potential of nursing home evictions, stating that the law is “…as wisely crafted as a concrete canoe” (“Be tough and Smart” Columbus Ledger Enquirer, October 19, 2006). The Rome News Tribune editorial from October 26, 2006 declares that HB 1059 has turned Georgia into a laughingstock and proposes that “…there should be a law that those who rape common sense aren’t allowed within 1,000 feet of the Golden Dome.” ..News Source.. by Press Release of SCHR

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