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Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Up For Debate

The idea of whether to create a juvenile sex offender registry is up for debate in Tennessee.

 Here are some of the pros and cons:

PROS:

  • The public would become aware of violent criminals.
  • The state would be in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and secure $5 million in grant money disbursed to law enforcement agencies all over Tennessee.

CONS:

  • The reputation of a child could be marred forever hindering their ability to be reformed and lead a normal life.
  • State could lose millions of dollars of federal money that goes to local law enforcement.

The bill, House Bill 2789 was introduced by State Rep. Debra Young Maggart, R-Hendersonville. It would add certain juvenile sexual offenders to the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification and Tracking Act of
2004.

The bill would require that violent juvenile sex offenders be placed onto the online registry. When juvenile offenders turned 18, they would continue to have a record as an adult and would be placed on the adult registry, the Jackson Sun reports.

Some lawmakers have argued that the bill should not pass because of funding and that the merits of the bill need to be considered.

Clearly, adding teens to a sex offender registry is controversial move. Tennessee lawmakers are weighing the impact the registry would have on adolescents.

More than 20 other states currently have a juvenile sex offender registry, but only Ohio is in full compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.

Tennessee's bill is scheduled to be discussed by the House Judiciary Committee and still would have to go before several other committees.