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Legislature OKs Tougher Rules For Sex Offender Parents On School Grounds

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Phillip Johnson, R-Pegram; March 30, 2010:

Bill Bans Registered Sex Offenders From After-School Events

NASHVILLE – The state House and Senate passed Monday a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams and Rep. Phillip Johnson of Pegram that places tighter restrictions on registered sex offenders at schools.

“Registered sex offenders have no business going to after-school events, and they shouldn’t be anywhere near a school without a principal’s knowledge. I’m proud to have closed a loophole that placed our children at risk,” Barnes said.

The bill (SB2988/HB3263) bans parents and legal guardians who are registered sexual offenders from their children’s events held on school grounds, such as plays and ballgames. Those individuals will have to obtain written permission from a school principal or administrator before attending conferences, and provide written notice of their status upon their child’s enrollment in order to drop off or pick up their child. Current law allows such parents to do all of the above without written permission or notice.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously Monday night, meaning the legislation will soon go to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature.

The bill is designed to alleviate concerns after the Cheatham County School Board passed a rule restricting the hours that a parent who is a registered sex offender could be on school grounds. The board had to later rescind its actions and adopt the state policy.

“Our schools must know who is around our children at all times, and this bill gives them greater authority to do that,” Johnson said. “Our families and our children are safer as a result of this legislation.”

Violation of the proposed law would result in a fine. Monetary penalties for violations of current sex offender restrictions range from $350 to $1,100.

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Sen. Barnes, Rep. Johnson Want Stricter Guidelines For Sex Offender Parents On School Grounds

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Phillip Johnson, R-Pegram; March 29, 2010:

Bill bans registered sex offenders from after-school events

NASHVILLE – Registered sex offenders who are parents or legal guardians of school children will be barred from school events like ballgames and will be required to receive written permission before entering school grounds, under a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams and Rep. Phillip Johnson of Pegram.

“Registered sex offenders have no business going to after-school events, and they shouldn’t be anywhere near a school without a principal’s knowledge,” Barnes said. “Parents and teachers should know that their children are learning and playing in a safe environment.”

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the bill Monday evening.

The bill (SB2988/HB3263) bans parents and legal guardians who are registered sexual offenders from their children’s school events like plays and ballgames. Those individuals will have to obtain written permission from a school principal or administrator before attending conferences, and provide written notice of their status upon their child’s enrollment in order to drop off or pick up their child. Current law allows such parents to do all of the above without written permission or notice.

The bill is designed to alleviate concerns after the Cheatham County School Board passed a rule restricting the hours that a parent who is a registered sex offender could be on school grounds. The board had to later rescind its actions and adopt the state policy.

“Current state law contains far too many exceptions that could create an unsafe environment for our children,” Johnson said. “Our schools need to be able to protect our children, and this bill gives them a better opportunity to do that.”

Violation of the proposed law would result in a fine. Monetary penalties for violations of current sex offender restrictions range from $350 to $1,100.

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Rep. Maggart and Sen. Black Want Violent Juveniles on Sex Offender Registry

Press Release from State Representative Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) and Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin), Dec. 7, 2009:

NASHVILLE – Rep. Maggart and Sen. Black will push for passage of legislation in January to place violent juvenile offenders on Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry as required under the federal Adam Walsh Act. The legislators introduced legislation today to place offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age on the Registry.

“We are trying to protect children who are victims of this crime,” said Rep. Maggart. “The safety of children overrides concerns regarding information being available about the juvenile who must register as a result of being convicted of this violent crime. We are talking about rape, aggravated rape, aggravated sexual battery, rape of a child and aggravated rape of a child. These are serious adult crimes committed by a juvenile that most commonly occur with very young victims who must be protected.”

The adoption of this legislation would put Tennessee into compliance with the requirements for juveniles to be placed on state’s Sex Offender Registries under the Adam Walsh Act which was scheduled to go into effect in 2009. Tennessee was awarded over $50 million in Byrne Grant funding last year, 10 percent of which could be in jeopardy unless the state adheres to these requirements.

However, in June U.S. Attorney General Anthony Holder signed a one year agreement to extend the deadline for states to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Only Ohio has complied with the law thus far.

“Tennessee has made very good progress at protecting children against child sexual predators, but we have still have a hurdle to overcome by placing these violent juvenile offenders age 14 and older on the Registry,” said Black.

“Although the risk of repeating the crime is not quite as high as adult sex offenders, it still presents enough of a threat to require placing these offenders on the Registry,” she continued. “We would like to believe that juveniles could not commit these types of horrible crimes. However, the fact remains that they do and children must be protected.”

“When there is this threat to the community, parents should have the right to know that the perpetrator has this history of sexual violence against children,” added Maggart. “Whether or not the perpetrator is 17 or 24 years old, child sexual offenders can be dangerous to children in the community and should be placed on the Registry as required by the Walsh Act. Hopefully, we will pass this legislation in the 2010 legislative session.”