Update: ACLU to Burchett: Rescind your sex offender policy
By Mike Donila
People listed on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry are banned from visiting county libraries under an executive order issued Monday by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
He said they can still use the county library system's online services and have a proxy check out and return materials on their behalf. But, they face arrest if caught inside the buildings.
"I just don't want them anywhere around our kids," Burchett said. "The ultimate decision is how we pursue it. I want to get out in front of this. There's no need to toil around with it. I don't want them anywhere around our kids."
- This is just the usual grandstanding to "look tough" on ex-sex offenders, while doing nothing. The only way to prevent ex-sex offenders from being around kids, is to sentence them to life in prison or house arrest, and even with house arrest, if a person is intent on committing a crime, they will.
The administration said the library system, which has 19 locations, is the first of the state's big four metropolitan library systems to put such a policy in place. The county, Burchett said, is taking advantage of a state law that went into effect July 1 that gives public library directors the authority "to reasonably restrict the access of any person listed on the sexual offender registry."
Officials will compare a list of registered offenders to its 150,000 active cardholders and then mail them notices, advising them of the change. State law says that a sex offender who enters a library five days after the notice is mailed can be prosecuted for criminal trespass.
In addition, the county also will post notices on the entrances to all its public library buildings.
Listed offenders on the state's registry include those convicted of sex crimes against children, rape, statutory rape, attempted rape, sexual battery, criminal attempt to commit statutory rape and solicitation to commit aggravated prostitution.
"People will say they've paid their debts to society, but they've given some of those kids a life sentence," Burchett said. "(Some of the) kids have been abused and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives. And I don't want to give (the offenders) a chance to be anywhere near them again."
- Once again, a Mayor making it appear as if all sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile, predators just waiting for a moment to pounce on your kids! That is a lie of course, but hey, anything to make himself look "tough" right?
Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones agreed, saying he was pleased with the new policy.
- Of course he is, police think all people are criminals, and like everyone else, they don't want to speak out on anything pertaining to ex-sex offenders, it could cost them their jobs. But wait until one of their own family members is slammed with the scarlet letter, then you will see them change their minds, but, it will be too late then.
|This is a dirt bag!|
- You see, even he thinks all ex-sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile, predators! If you ask me, it's people like this sheriff and mayor who are the "dirt bags!"
Officials say they can't recall an incident at the library that involved a sex offender, but communications manager Michael Grider said the Knoxville Police Department is investigating a complaint made roughly a month to six weeks ago.
Grider said a girl in her early teens was at the Bearden branch when a man told her he was having car troubles and asked her for help. The girl later that day told her parents and then they talked with the library staff. The police were called to investigate.
Grider said at this point no one knows who the man was or whether he was a sex offender, but that the incident was troubling enough to look into.
"We have always been concerned about the safety of our patrons," said county Library Director Myretta Black. "Our staff is well trained to ensure a comfortable and secure environment, particularly when it comes to our children. This new state law is a tool to heighten security where registered sex offenders are concerned,"
Sixth Judicial District Public Defender Mark Stephens said Monday he doesn't question the county's purpose of ensuring public safety, but he questioned whether the move was constitutional.
"A regulation like this proposes too broad a ban to include people who impose no threat to library goers," he said. "A ban like this would have to be so narrowly tailored to avoid infringing on the rights of those people who don't present a risk, and the Knox County proposed ban doesn't meet that test."
Stephens said a New Mexico district court recently ruled that a similar ban in Albuquerque was unconstitutional.
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When asked whether the county's plan unfairly punished those whose crimes were not child-related, Burchett said: "Sometimes people plead down to lesser offenses. My main concern is protecting innocent people, and all we're doing is enforcing state law and going after it very aggressively. I don't know how you'd differentiate. The state can work that out."
- You'd start by tailoring the law to only those who have committed a sex crime against a child, but hey, that's only common sense, which politicians do not have, and even then, it still would not protect kids from someone intent on committing a crime! If you were truly "concerned" about protecting innocent people, then you'd have to ban ex-offenders from going anywhere, like grocery stores, malls, gas stations, etc. Those have innocent people as well, but, this is not about "protecting" innocent people, it's about grandstanding to help yourself, IMO.
Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee did not return calls seeking comment Monday.