I intend to provide a commentary on an issue presented in the Effingham Herald’s recent article, “ECSO taking steps for Halloween safety.” Invoking precept three in Georgia’s “terms and conditions of probation” (Georgia Code 42-8-35), which states that “the probationer shall report to the probation supervisor as directed,” the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office announced the detainment of probationary sex offenders on Oct. 31, for the duration of Halloween festivities, from the hours of 6-9 p.m.
The rationale of the ECSO, as set forth in statement by Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, is proactivity concerning child safety. What is clear is that this is a matter of interpretation by the ECSO, as other state counties, which abide by the same “terms and conditions of probation,” are instituting far less regulations.
Without discussing the fact that the ECSO are pre-emptively instituting regulations in response to a holiday that the United States government does not officially recognize, the truly spooky matter concerning Halloween is the ECSO’s infringement on basic civil liberties through this governance.
Seventeenth-century English philosopher John Locke wrote in his “Second Treatise of Government” that civil societies serve the function of an unbiased judge; such governments are to charge offenders with retribution “so far as calm reason and conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression.” These words of Locke influenced the many founding fathers who wrote our nation’s Constitution. One such clause in the Constitution of the United States, which every officer of the law swears to uphold and defend, is the Fifth Amendment, which affirms that “No person shall be … subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy.” Therefore, detaining any offender crosses from probationary punishment, which ostensibly guarantees some liberties to the offender, into civil retribution, which limits the offender’s civil liberties in a significantly higher volume.
The act of detaining any offender is no longer probation, but instead the manifestation of a second retribution placed upon the offender. This rule issued by the ECSO is nonsensical in part because a sex offender may earn that title through means outside of just the molestation of children, but it is also counterproductive because the goal of probation is to serve as an alternate to incarceration.
In the estimation of this Effingham County citizen, the ECSO are doing a poor job in upholding and defending the Constitution of this United States of America.