Lawmakers debate putting juvenile sex offenders on registry - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lawmakers debate putting juvenile sex offenders on Tennessee registry

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - State lawmakers are trying to determine whether or not juvenile sex offenders should be listed on Tennessee's official sex offender registry.

Legislation was introduced this week in Nashville to place convicted sex offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 on the registry.  This would put the state into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, and avoid jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding.

However, critics argue that placing younger teens on the registry will compromise their privacy and other information not usually released when juveniles are charged with crimes.

But critics say, unlike adult offenders, juveniles are more easily rehabilitated.

Meanwhile, those pushing the legislation say parents have the right to know if an offender lives in their neighborhood, no matter their age.

Action News 5 exposed the problem of juvenile sex offenders in Memphis and Shelby County more than two years ago and spoke with Terre Fratesi, a juvenile court prosecutor who said recidivism here is a major concern.

"We've seen juvenile sex offenders who are multiple offenders and who, as soon as they're out of treatment and put back in the community, they re-offend," Fratesi said in a 2007 interview.

So far, only the state of Ohio has complied with the Adam Walsh Act.  Tennessee lawmakers behind the effort here consider it the last hurdle in fully protecting children against sexual predators.   

They hope to pass the measure in the 2010 legislative session.

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