Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones surprised residents in Columbia County this week after posting an unusual message on his Facebook page.
“In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders (on probation) in the City of Grovetown will be housed in the Council Chambers on Halloween night from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m,” the mayor wrote. “There are approximately 25-30 offenders and they will be overseen by the GA Dept. of Community Supervision District 10 (4 officers) and accompanied by one Grovetown officer.”
While some concerned parents and longtime residents of Grovetown are cheering the mayor’s actions, others in the area are scratching their heads trying to figure out if what the mayor is discussing is actually legal.
“Wow. You know, I think that this is terrible. I am absolutely against any kind of sex abuse to children or anyone, but these ‘offenders’ have paid their debt to society,” one female citizen posted. “I pray they are walking as they should, but to place them in a building as a criminal is wrong. They were already judged, found guilty. Let them stay home, let them follow the rules of their punishment!”
Others thought it was ridiculous that Grovetown would only choose Halloween to take such drastic measures against sex offenders.
“We live among these offenders daily,” another woman wrote. “If you are concerned, you should already have made yourself aware of the ones near you (or in this instance near where your kids will be visiting). How about just skip those houses, rather than keeping these individuals caged like animals?”
Some citizens were shocked that other people in the area were actually “defending pedophiles.”
“All of Columbia County should follow suit,” one citizen posted. “I have one living right next door to me and my children! How was it even legal for him to move in and me not be notified!?!? I had to see his nasty face by chance on the registry list!”
The city of Grovetown all of a sudden became the center of a major controversy, with people arguing for hours over whether Jones’ announcement was justified.
But Jones insisted that the move is perfectly legal.
“This is being ran by the GA Community Services Probationary Dept.,” Jones wrote. “We are assisting and providing the facility. They have the authority to do this under special conditions.”
Jones said this was just a “precautionary action,” and there have been no incidents that have been reported in the past to cause major concern.
Some citizens felt that this extreme action was a huge waste of time and money for the city of Grovetown.
“There have been no previous instances to warrant this,” another man wrote. “This is just more officials using fear to justify their ‘precautionary actions’ when really they’re trying to scare people into thinking there’s a problem that they’re solving where there isn’t. Do better, Grovetown.”
Others suggested people should research the many ways that individuals can be placed on the sex offender list.
“Did you know you can be put on the sex offender list in Georgia for public urination?” another man wrote. “Also, if you’re going to do this, why stop at sex offenders? Why not include robbers, nonsexual assaulters, kidnappers, and murderers? This is one of those instances where an elected official is just pandering for good press. ‘Tough’ on crime is not always smart on crime.”
Another man joked, “I’m just wondering if they are going to round up all the arsonists on July 4th…”
Finally, Mayor Jones responded to his critics.
“Friends, I am not personally going to pick up, round up, call or going to any sex offender’s home,” he posted. “This is a joint effort with GA Community Probation Services. They are the one’s with the authority under Special Conditions to require that offenders report. The reporting location is Grovetown City Hall. This is legal… good grief!”
Good grief, Charlie Brown!
Maybe Mayor Jones should team up with the Great Pumpkin and help probation services round up all the sex offenders and keep an eye on them while Linus and the gang collect their candy.
Happy Halloween, Grovetown.
Things are getting pretty scary in your town just in time for Halloween!