Tenn. law grants access to records of sex offenders on campuses

TENNESSEE — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation willmaintain public records on convicted sex offenders working orstudying at college and university campuses in the state, underlegislation signed on Feb. 14 by Gov. Don Sundquist.

The legislation benefits student journalists, as well as lawenforcement agencies and the public, because it increases accessto information on the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders.

State Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Jim Boyer, R-Corryton,sponsored the "Tennessee College & University CampusSex Crimes Prevention Act of 2002" (HB 561/SB 917). BeginningOct. 27 of this year, the measure will force convicted sex offendersattending or employed by colleges in the state to register withthe bureau every time they move.

"Under Tennessee law certain information collected fromregistrants who were convicted of a covered sex offense on orafter July 1, 1997 is already public," said Daniel Carter,senior vice president of Security On Campus, a campus-crime watchdoggroup. "This list includes [the offender’s] name, date ofbirth, sex offenses convicted of, race, gender and other identifyinginformation, but not [the offender’s] status on campus."

Tennessee is the second state in the country to pass this typeof legislation, after California adopted a similar measure lastyear. The California law, however, does not give the public access to sex offender registries. Under new federal guidelines, all states must follow suitbefore Oct. 27, or they risk losing 10 percent of their federalcriminal justice grant money.

View the text of the bill as passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.Updated information about the federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, enacted in 2000, is available from Security On Campus.Read our previous coverage.