It appears there will be new efforts to pass a sex offender registry for juveniles in the coming session of the Tennessee State Legislature. The reason for the new law is Washington money.Loss of Federal money is at the heart of the juvenile sex offender registry. Last session , Tennessee's version of the juvenile sex offender law did not come up for a vote.Some juvenile judges spoke in opposition to the bill.However , Washington's money often forces state government to act.If Tennessee does not pass the juvenile sex offender statute, Tennessee would stand to lose 10% of the 11.5 million dollar grant from the federal government. The choice is clear do we brand a child forever as a sex offender who might get treatment or do Tennesseans want a million or two from Uncle Sam.Shouldn't Tennesseans pass the law they believe helps the most .My bet is we take the money.
Debra Maggart who is sponsoring the bill states it's not about the money.
"One of the excuses people kept using last year was that we still had time to fix this. Not anymore," said Maggart, who also said she doesn't think the loss of federal money should be the primary reason for passing the law. "What's really important is not the money. The most important reason is that it helps Tennessee be a safe place for children and not a haven for sex offenders."
My one fundamental thought is the Tennessee State Legislature should consider the proof element in all sex crimes in Tennessee.Right now anyone can allege a rape.Sex offenses are brought without any corroborating evidence in many Tennessee counties.It then becomes a credibility contest between the accuser and the accused. The state should require some sort of corroborative evidence to support a conviction.
Rehabilitation , lifetime punishment or adding another level of proof to prevent wrongful convictions are some of the options the state legislature should consider.