Georgia Supreme Court Considers the Limits of the Laws of Banishment and Physics

The Georgia Supreme Court is considering a basic law of physics: is a man is banished from the entire state except for a small county in a distant section: how can he get there and, if he does, how can he live. This is the intriguing question presented by a lower court’s sentence that Gregory Mac Terry is banished from all but one of the state’s 159 counties. Banishment has become the rage with state judges but there remains a question of constitutionality, if not impossibility.

The physics of banishment someone from virtually all of the state prompted Georgia Justice Harris Hines to ask “If you’re banished to one central county, how do you get there?” he asked. His colleague, Justice Robert Benham tied to help by suggesting that he fly but no one knew if an airport was available.

The banishment was ordered because of Terry’s obsession with his wife. Douglas Superior Court Judge David Emerson ordered the banishment to assure the wife that see would not have to worry seeing Terry as she moved around the state.

The banishment, however, proved to be a problem when Terry was released from prison in 2001 for a work-release problem. Officials then released that there was no where, particularly in Fulton County, where they could send him. They were forced to give bring him back to prison and given him a new 2009 release date.

Terry was confined to a rural rural Toombs County, which comprises 367 square miles in southeast Georgia. But he does not know anyone in the county, has no job there, and has no place to live there. Once there, he cannot leave the place. That seems less of a parole condition as it is a new form of punishment. The motivation of Emerson is clearly not in question. However, the means is excessive and other alternatives might be available such as voluntary acceptance of electronic monitoring etc.

The sentence raises serious questions of the constitutionality of banishments. As noted in this column, judges are increasingly using creative or caesar like punishment raising such concerns.

For the Georgia story, click here

5 thoughts on “Georgia Supreme Court Considers the Limits of the Laws of Banishment and Physics”

  1. My brother was banished from the whole state of Georgia at the age of 18 or 19 in 1989, By the Lowndes County Court, when my mom was sick he was not allowed to come not even to her funeral. He has been living in Virginia since 1989. His daughter was born in GA and the only way she got to see him when she was growing up was to meet him in SC. I think that something should be done about that. that just not right.

  2. I was banished from Washington County Ga. as a condition of my bond for a recent arrest. I’m 54 years old and this was the first time I had ever been arrested in my life. I have no previous arrest record and I am forced to leave my home and the county I have lived in all of my life. How can how can anyone do this before a person even goes to court? I need help from someoneon this. I am totaly disabled and have nowhere to live. I have a nice home that I can’t even go to. I’ve taken about all I can.

  3. Why run prisons? Very expensive with all those guards, food, etc.

    Just sentence people to one square acre in the middle of the Great Dismal Swamp!

    Or on the Dry Tortugas!

    You can get probably 50,000 or more criminals into one acre I am sure.

  4. Actually, he is not allowed to go down the road, but he can look down it from a safe distance.

    While not called banishments, courts routinely restrict travel during a probation period for some offenders. However, this restriction is so excessive that it raises serious constitutional questions.

  5. I know very little about law beyond what an interested layman would, but how can such banishment sentences be constitutional? At what point does restricting the range of an allowed freedom of movement become de facto incarceration?

    This seems like a very dangerous road to go down.

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