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Men, women on state’s sex offender registry face strict rules

For some individuals convicted of a crime, their sentence does not end once their time has been served.
Under Tennessee law, persons convicted of certain sexual-based offenses are required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender. Those offenses include, but are not limited to rape, statutory rape, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, indecent exposure on a third or subsequent conviction, patronizing prostitution if the victim was a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping except when committed by a parent of the minor, and observation without consent upon a third or subsequent offense.
State law requires sexual offenders to report to law enforcement once a year but those who are classified as “violent” offenders are required to report four times a year to law enforcement – in March, June, September and December.
The Tennesse Bureau of Investigation maintains the state’s registry of offenders and makes that list available to the public through its web site at www.tbi.gov. According to the TBI there are currently 88 registered sex offenders living within Carter County.
Locally, offenders living within the city limits must report to the Elizabethton Police Department and those living in the county report to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. If an offender is still on probation or parole through the Tennessee Department of Corrections they report to their probation or parole officer.
EPD Sgt. Chris Bowers, who handles the offender registry for the police department, said he currently has seven offenders who report to him – three who are annual reporters and 4 who are quarterly reporters.
Bowers said offenders must come in when they are due to report and fill out a registration form which includes their address (he noted that it must be a physical address and post office box addresses are not acceptable), vehicle description, information on any schools the offender attends and employment information.
On each visit, Bowers said, offenders are given a copy of the state rules and laws surrounding the offender registry and must sign paperwork saying they received the rules.
Under the state rules for the program, offenders on the registry are prohibited from establishing a residence or knowingly accepting employment within 1,000 feet of any school, day care center, child care facility, public park, playground, recreation center or public athletic field.
Offenders are also prohibited from going to or remaining on the premises of any building or grounds of any school, day care center, child care facility, public park, playground, recreation center or public athletic field if the offender has “reason to believe” children under 18 are present. Also, offenders are barred from standing, sitting – whether or not in a vehicle – or remaining within 1,000 feet of one of those prohibited locations when children under 18 years of age are present “while not having a reason or relationship involving custody of or responsibility for a child or any other specific or legitimate reason for being there.”
Bowers said while state law does not require him to conduct home visits with the offenders, he does go out to check the information the offenders provide.
“I do like to go sometimes and see they are where they say they are,” he said. “We are not required to, but I think it is something beneficial to do to see that they are in compliance.”
His counterpart at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Randy Bowers, said he also checks the information provided during registration. “When time permits we do try to verify things, especially if it is a new registration,” Lt. Bowers said.
More offenders in Carter County report to the Sheriff’s Department than to the Police Department.
“We average between 50 and 60,” Lt. Bowers said, adding that number fluctuates as offenders move or become incarcerated.
Lt. Bowers said if an offender on the registry fails to report, provides false information or violates any of the rules of the registry program they face additional charges which could land them back in jail.