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Faced with the question of whether banishment for criminals in Georgia should be banned, the state's top court answered Monday with its own caveat: It depends on how far the ban extends.

The Georgia Supreme Court acknowledged with its 6-1 decision that banishing convicted criminals from the state is illegal, but it upheld a tactic by judges who ban them from living in all but one of Georgia's 159 counties.

That's what happened to Gregory Mac Terry, who was restricted from living everywhere in Georgia except rural Toombs County after he pleaded guilty in 1995 to charges he assaulted and stalked his estranged wife.

Defense attorneys call the strategy "de facto" banishment. Prosecutors say the orders are a way to rid criminals from populated areas and protect victims from repeat offenses. In Terry's case, they said, the restrictions are needed to protect his wife.

Writing for the majority, Justice Harris Hines said judges can legally skirt the ban on banishment when they restrict convicts like Terry from all but one county.


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