Back when I was a reporter, judges would occasionally ban those found guilty of serious crimes to Echols County, a small wedge of semi-dry land wedged between North America’s largest swamp and Florida.
I recall asking the judge in a second-degree kidnapping case how such bans helped society and he said something like “well at least we got him out of Valdosta.” I ran with that quote and society at large did not seem offended.
The judge told me it was unconstitutional to ban a criminal from the entire state, but it was OK to ban them from up to 158 of Georgia’s 159 counties. He said most criminals would voluntarily move to another state when their only option was living in a Georgia county that doesn’t have a city.
But what about speeders? Should judges ban people for traffic offenses?
Gwinnett County resident Ricardo Riley was banned from Walton County after pleading guilty to going 40 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone. Walton County is southeast of Gwinnett County and includes the cities of Monroe, Loganville, Social Circle.
Riley, who doesn’t seem to have a criminal record, said he thought he would plead guilty and get a fine of $250. Instead, he said he was fined $1,000, given 12 months probation, ordered to attend driving school and banished for life from Walton County.
If you’re going to get permanently banned from a place, Walton County, home of pretty much nothing except a tiny piece of I-20, is a good pick.
Despite that truism, Riley is unhappy.
“I didn’t commit no murder, I’m not a sex offender, I’m not a criminal. I just got a speeding ticket, so I think that’s not fair,” Riley said.
Riley is bummed because he can no longer visit friends in Walton or drop his kids of at a co-worker’s house.
The worst part of the sentence is being on probation, which means he can’t return to his home country of Jamaica, said Riley.
As I’ve said before, fines, especially stupid ones, don’t seem to reduce crimes.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story said Riley said he would continue to speed, but I misunderstood the WSB story. Riley said he will NOT speed in the future. Sorry about that. The video below makes it more clear. Also, Tony Thomas tells me Riley may have misunderstood part of his sentence and he is NOT banned for life, but only banned as long as he remains on probation for the speeding ticket.
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