Tennessee Sex Offenders and Halloween

It may be Halloween , but the Tennessee Department of Corrections will be conducting Operation Blackout on those on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. It has been recently reported about the increased scrutiny that Tennessee Sex Offenders will be facing on  Halloween. For example,  here is a partial list of prohibited activities;

  • No decorations may be displayed. Not even a pumpkin is allowed.
  • A curfew from 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M.
  • No attendance at any haunted houses, corn mazes or other Halloween events.
  • No porch lights are allowed and the door cannot be answered.

A violation of these rules could result in a violation of Tennessee's sex offender laws and land you in jail. The legal issue is whether these severe rules related to preventing sex abuse cases. It appears there is always some relationship between a sex offender and the victim. Family, social or school relationships are the most common. Civil libertarians are concerned about the loss of civil liberties. In Delaware, a sex offender must post a sign that tells trick or treaters that no candy is here. Sex offender laws have their place but are we driving those on the Tennessee Sex Offenders underground.

 

Tennessee Sex Offenders and Halloween

It may be Halloween , but the Tennessee Department of Corrections will be conducting Operation Blackout on those on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. It has been recently reported about the increased scrutiny that Tennessee Sex Offenders will be facing on  Halloween. For example,  here is a partial list of prohibited activities;

  • No decorations may be displayed. Not even a pumpkin is allowed.
  • A curfew from 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M.
  • No attendance at any haunted houses, corn mazes or other Halloween events.
  • No porch lights are allowed and the door cannot be answered.

A violation of these rules could result in a violation of Tennessee's sex offender laws and land you in jail. The legal issue is whether these severe rules related to preventing sex abuse cases. It appears there is always some relationship between a sex offender and the victim. Family, social or school relationships are the most common. Civil libertarians are concerned about the loss of civil liberties. In Delaware, a sex offender must post a sign that tells trick or treaters that no candy is here. Sex offender laws have their place but are we driving those on the Tennessee Sex Offenders underground.

 

Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground ?

Steven Yoder recently wrote a article of the  same title as this blog post. The central question is do residency bans drive sex offenders underground. Mr. Yoder gives on example where a city in California created a park to drive out 33 registered sex offenders from there homes .Currently , there have been legal challenges to the residency rules under several states sex offender registry laws.

One judge relied on a report conducted by the State of Colorado Sex Offender Management Board on residency bans. The basic findings were that residency bans does not lower recidivism rates and could actually increase the risks to the public.

 

Let's take a look at Tennessee's sex offender registry laws on residences. Tennessee Code Annotated 40-39-211 spells out the residency ban. Tennessee prohibits a sex offender from residing or working  within a 1000 feet of schools child care facilities , public parks playgrounds , recreation centers or public athletic fields available for use by the public at large.

Here is one example where a person could drive a sex offender from their neighborhood. A person puts a small playground in the backyard. Then allows the public to use the playground . It is possible that this playground could be covered under the statute.

 

Some states have moved to prevent local governments from enacting tougher residency requirements. Here is a statement from a New Hampshire Representative :

“My first term, I was pretty much a hard-liner,” said Republican representative Larry Gagne during a January committee hearing.

“I said, ‘Put [sex offenders] in outer space; put them all on an island.’ But I changed my mind after a [police] sergeant came in and said, ‘If they go underground, we can’t find them.’”

Mr. Yoder's article is worth reading on this tough issue.