Campus sex offender registration bills introduced in Tennessee, Colorado

Two state legislatures are considering bills that would provide increased public access to information on registered sex offenders who live or work on college campuses.

Designed to comply with new federal guidelines regarding the disclosure of such information set to take effect in October, the bills closely mirror similar legislation passed in California in 2001.

In Tennessee, SB 917 is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, after HB 561 passed the House last year. Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Jim Boyer, D-Corryton, are the bills’ sponsors.

“Under Tennessee law certain information collected from registrants who were convicted of a covered sex offense on or after July 1, 1997, is already public,” said Daniel Carter, senior vice president of Security on Campus, a campus crime watchdog group. “This list includes [the offender’s] name, date of birth, sex offenses convicted of, race, gender and other identifying information, but not [the offender’s] status on campus.”

In Colorado, Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, and Rep. Joe Stengel Jr., R-Littleton, earlier this month introduced HB 02-1114, which was referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee.

The bill “requires sex offender registration forms to include a requirement that the registrant list the locations of all institutions of postsecondary education where he or she volunteers or is enrolled or employed.” It also requires that sex offenders re-register when they change jobs, mandates that a statewide database of their registration be maintained and made public, and requires institutions to inform their campus communities where information in the database may be obtained.

States that fail to comply with the federal sex offender registration guidelines by Oct. 27 risk losing eligibility for federal grant programs.