• Update from the Capitol: Upskirting



    COLUMN

    Contact:    Ines Owens, Director 
                      Elisabeth Fletcher, Communications Specialist
                      elisabeth.fletcher@senate.ga.gov
                      404-656-0028


    Update from the Capitol: Upskirting
    By: Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry)

    The off session at the state Capitol, though not as busy as the legislative session, is a time when a lot of moving parts come together and we work to create positive change. This year is no different as we are following issues and preparing for study committee meetings and task forces. This week, I’ll be discussing some of the issues I have had a hand in changing over my time as a Senator and how these changes have effected citizens.
     
    Keeping up with the latest issues and recognizing key policy points are important for being prepared for the next session. In the last few months I have noticed several news outlets reporting stories of individuals engaging in the act of ‘upskirting.’ This act is described in Georgia Code as using a device to film up or through a person’s clothing. Several of the incidences happened in the metro Atlanta area, and one right here in middle Georgia. It’s a reprehensible offense and one that I am happy we were able to make a felony through legislation introduced in the 2017 session.
     
    Before the 2017 legislative session, a loophole in the law did not consider upskirting a felony crime. It was unintentional, as technology often changes more rapidly than the law does. We added language into Georgia Code stating “any person convicted of violating this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.”
     
    What we hoped this legislation would do is discourage anyone from committing this crime. Though there is no definitive information on whether or not this law has decreased the number of times this felony is committed, I think it has. And, as it is a felony crime, I believe it is being reported more by virtue of the designation as a felony. I hope this news is seen as a reminder that this behavior is one our state does not take lightly. My hope is that by giving this crime attention, we will discourage it from happening in the first place.
     
    This is just an example of the law changing with technology, and I know that our work is not done. I am sure that in the coming years, newer technology and advances in our capabilities will continue to effect legislation. If you have any ideas about laws that you think could be improved or “revitalized,” please do not hesitate to reach out. Now is the best time for us legislators to begin researching and crafting legislation for the upcoming 2020 legislative session and I am interested to know what you think could be done to better our state. As always, it is a pleasure to serve you under the Gold Dome!
     
     

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    Sen. Larry Walker serves as Caucus Vice Chairman for the Majority Party.  He represents the 20th Senate District, which includes Bleckley, Houston, Laurens and Pulaski counties.  He may be reached by phone at (404) 656-0095 or by email at larry.walker@senate.ga.gov