Sex Offender Notification Bill Advances In Tennessee Legislature

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn.(WHNT)-A push for tougher sex offender notification laws in Tennessee came one step closer to reality Tuesday, part of an ongoing effort that originated in Lincoln County several months ago.

A committee in the Tennessee Legislature approved HB 1860, a bill that would allow municipal and county governments to mail written notices and post flyers in communities that convicted sex offenders move to.

Tennessee lists all of its registered sex offenders on a  state website (http://www.tbi.tn.gov/sex_ofender_reg/sex_ofender_reg.shtml),the only legal method of notification the Volunteer State currently has. But Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said residents who don’t know about the site, or those who don’t have internet access, are vulnerable to potential danger. Blackwelder said issues with the current system came to a head at a community meeting in a rural part of the county last year.

“They [residents] were concerned because they weren’t notified that sex offenders were living in their communities,” said Blackwelder. “When we discussed the TBI website, it became evident that a lot of these people did not have access to the TBI website nor access to the internet.”

Sheriff Blackwelder decided to contact state legislators about the dilemma, a brainstorming session that gave birth to the Tennessee Community Notification Act. Blackwelder said it guarantees awareness for parents, and is cost-effective.

“This gives parents the knowledge of who is in their community,” said Blackwelder. “It doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime…In this bill there is an additional 50 dollar fee assessed to the sex offender. That 50 dollars will be earmarked for community notification.”

Alabama and several other neighboring states already have similar laws in place. Lincoln County officials said it’s one reason why several sex offenders have recently moved north of the state line.

Both bodies of the Tennessee Legislature are expected to formally vote on HB 1860 in the next few weeks.

19 comments

  • Jr

    What a great idea! Ostracize them! Even though they have already done their time. Let’s make it impossible for them to even be successful at reintegration. Beware of the boogie man lurking in your bushes. Fear mongering to get re elected is pathetic. Laws such as this one are based on 0 % of truthes, and do more harm than good. Don’t be sheeple.

  • Darlene Smart

    True, these men do their time, sometimes. Sex related criminals tend to re-offend at a higher percentage rate, most being on parole, put in neighborhoods with lots of children and women living alone.
    There are consequences to every bad decision we make, especially those decisions that hurt and maim others. How would we react if the government started putting sick animals in our neighborhoods without restriction or notice?
    Raping anyone isn’t an accident, it is a choice and a lifestyle, and I for one want at the very least to be put on notice about certain criminals released into my neighborhood.

    • Shelly Stow

      Darlene, you are mistaken in your comment. You are entitled to your opinion, but it is fact and statistical evidence that those labeled sex offenders have the lowest of re-offense rates. You seem to feel they are all rapists, and that is far from the truth, but rapists benefit from punishment and treatment and, for first time offenders, prove themselves as capable of rehabilitation as others.

      I feel your intentions are good, but please do some reading in the subject. Read official government reports, both federal and state; be sure you are distinguishing between the recidivism rate and the re-offense rate. Read scholarly literature by university researchers.

      Thank you for caring enough to comment.

    • Stacey Madison

      And how would you feel if your family member was convicted of an offense 30 years ago, was accessed as no risk numerous times, and still had to register? There is no public safety provided for the registrant and his/her family when the public is led to believe these people are still a danger. Most of them are no more of a threat than the people in your own inner circle or total strangers. Publicly humiliating these people does not prevent crime and in fact, induces more social problems because no one wants to hire them, no one wants them to rent to them, their families are negatively impacted, and this type of targeting invokes vigilante behavior.

    • Stacey Madison

      I would like to be notified of people like you who are basing an opinion from a MAN MADE list attempting to judge others based on an offense instead of thinking for yourselves and comprehending the complexity of all aspects of this social issue.

  • Shelly Stow

    A little bit of research will verify what Jr. has said, Public notification backfires and produces the opposite of what we want–safer communities. Rehabilitation and successful re-entry are the goals, and when laws are established that thwart those goals, one branch of the government is fighting against another. And when it is done for no safety benefit, as statistical evidence shows, but only for political pandering, it is shameful.

  • Lin

    I’m sorry, I disagree with both previous comments. I don’t believe “rehabilitation” is possible with the majority of sexual predators. “Doing time” probably promotes their desire to commit the same acts over.

    • Stacey Madison

      Having worked with hundreds of people convicted of a sex offense, do not be mislead by the emotionally charged hysteria the media and lawmakers have played upon. Many people classified as Predators are no more dangerous than those within your own inner circle or strangers not on the registry. True, fixated, habitual offenders number very few and yet all former sex offenders are lumped into one ideology because society believes the registry is justified for those deemed as a threat based on an offense committed. Your comment that “…probably promotes their desire to commit the same crime” is contrary to the fact that after having monitored these people post supervision, the vast majority are capable of successful rehabilitation.

  • Rod Temple

    It’s amazing that these criminal regimes have so much time to worry about “sex offenders” when they apparently have not done even the slightest bit of work to get the rest of their big government Registries created. Did you know that our big governments don’t even Register people who shoot children? Or who “accidentally” beat them to death? They don’t Register drunk drivers either. Amazing, huh? I thought the Sex Offender Witch Hunt was for “public safety” and all those lies.

    This is just one more BS law for which there is no need. Parents who protect their children have no need for big government giving them lists of bad guys.

    Any person who is forced to be listed on a big government Sex Offender Registry should do everything legally possible to ensure that it is more worthless than it naturally already is. They should also find ways to legally retaliate every day for the simple existence of the Registries. If a person is forced to pay the criminal regime money, the person should legally find ways to cost the criminal regime an amount of 12 times what is forced. This article mentions that $50 will be stolen from each Registered person so each of those people should cost the criminal regime an ADDITIONAL $600. It’s the moral thing to do.

  • Shelly Stow

    Lin, thank you for caring enough to comment, and you are of course entitled to your opinion, but I wonder what it is based on. One mistake you are making is using the term predators synonymous with sex offenders, which is anyone on the registry, which covers a very wide range of offenses, some not even sexually related and very few predatory. And even the term predator varies by the state and the evaluation system used.

    The truth is that the vast majority of registrants living in the community after punishment for a single offense will never commit another one. Many have lived peaceful and law-abiding lives with no re-offense for twenty, even thirty, years.

    I fully believe that you are well-intentioned. I am asking you to do some reading on the subject. Read government reports. Read scholarly works by university researchers. If you get into literature about recidivism, be sure to recognize the difference between recidivism and re-offense.

    Again, thank you, and blessings to you.

  • loismarshall

    Shelly is extremely well-informed. Her statistical information is accurate. Anyone who has bothered to research this information at their state government’s website or the federal Department of Justice will find that the re-offense rate is very low.
    What the numbers often do not show, however, is the large number of offenses which are things like mutual “playing doctor” by young children (normal childhood curiosity) or teens having consensual sex. At least one third of all those on the registry were convicted of crimes committed WHILE THEY WERE STILL MINORS THEMSELVES!
    While re-offense rates for adults is low, it is even lower in those convicted as minors, who are also more amenable to rehabilitation!
    I think it is time we re-evaluate this law.

  • pachrismith

    Warning!(Picture your representative and Sheriff Blackwelder here) These people are known to fabricate legislative findings based on media reporting, speculation and conjecture while ignoring sound evidentiary principals and procedures. They impose legislation on the community without consideration of and often without inquiry for evidence and experience of it’s effectiveness and unintended consequences. They inspire misdirected fear, promote themselves to be champions of the victims of that fear, and appear to those who are informed as more concerned with counting votes than for the welfare of those who trust them.
    Multiple evidence based studies have shown no effect for reducing recidivism by registration and notification laws. “Does a Watched Pot Boil?” by Sandler, Freeman & Socia of the University at Albany School of Criminal Justice reviewed sex crime arrest reports from the period 1984 through 2004 and found no rate change after the 1994 registration and notification law was passed in New York. They also found that more than 95% of those arrested for a sex crime had no prior convictions for any sex crime.
    An even stronger indictment of Blackwelder and the legislators is a study by Prescott and Rockoff “Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?”. Praised for it’s rigorous standards of evidence, this study found a significant increase for recidivism after community notification laws were implemented. While not investigated in this study, there is medical research supporting a reduced ability to control impulsiveness and to conform to societal norms resulting from stress induced neuropathy, and destabilized housing and employment are tremendous stressors for anyone.
    The people who trusted you and put you in office have every reasonable expectation that you will seek after their welfare based on knowledge rather than conjecture. This legislation is clear evidence you have betrayed that trust.

  • pachrismith

    Multiple evidence based studies have shown no effect for reducing recidivism by registration and notification laws. “Does a Watched Pot Boil?” by Sandler, Freeman & Socia of the University at Albany School of Criminal Justice reviewed sex crime arrest reports from the period 1984 through 2004 and found no rate change after the 1994 registration and notification law was passed in New York. They also found that more than 95% of those arrested for a sex crime had no prior convictions for any sex crime.
    An even stronger indictment of Blackwelder and the legislators is a study by Prescott and Rockoff “Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?”. Praised for it’s rigorous standards of evidence, this study found a significant increase for recidivism after community notification laws were implemented. While not investigated in this study, there is medical research supporting a reduced ability to control impulsiveness and to conform to societal norms resulting from stress induced neuropathy, and destabilized housing and employment are tremendous stressors for anyone.
    The people who trusted you and put you in office have every reasonable expectation that you will seek after their welfare based on knowledge rather than conjecture. This legislation is clear evidence you have betrayed that trust.

  • pachrismith

    Multiple evidence based studies have shown no effect for reducing recidivism by registration and notification laws. “Does a Watched Pot Boil?” by Sandler, Freeman & Socia of the University at Albany School of Criminal Justice reviewed s_x crime arrest reports from the period 1984 through 2004 and found no rate change after the 1994 registration and notification law was passed in New York. They also found that more than 95% of those arrested for a s_x crime had no prior convictions for any s_x crime.
    An even stronger indictment of Blackwelder and the legislators is a study by Prescott and Rockoff “Do S_x Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?”. Praised for it’s rigorous standards of evidence, this study found a significant increase for recidivism after community notification laws were implemented. While not investigated in this study, there is medical research supporting a reduced ability to control impulsiveness and to conform to societal norms resulting from stress induced neuropathy, and destabilized housing and employment are tremendous stressors for anyone.
    The people who trusted you and put you in office have every reasonable expectation that you will seek after their welfare based on knowledge rather than conjecture. This legislation is clear evidence you have betrayed that trust.

  • pachrismith

    Three times I tried posting the identical comment and the one that made it to this page was the one where I substituted and underscore ( _ ) for the e in s_x. Ludicrous for an article about s_x offenders.

  • Commonsenseplease

    Obviously, this is a bad bill. Historically factually unsound. But you guys are arguing and presenting your facts and opinions in the wrong place. You should contact your representatives and tell them and voice your concerns and plan your votes.

    • pachrismith

      You are right. If anyone wants to contact their representative and needs factual references, contact Florida Action Committee at their website and they will forward your email to me. I could write but too many politicians won’t bother to urinate on you if you’re on fire unless you can vote for them.

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