February 28, 2014

Tennessee Rep. Wants to Print “Sex Offender” in Red on Every Sex Offender’s Driver’s License

2-28-2014 Tennessee:

Matthew Hill, a Tennessee state representative who ran for office with an image of a fetus on his campaign fliers, has entertained the notion that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and previously proposed legislation to force Tennesseans to exclusively speak English while at work, has got another bright idea. Hill is sponsoring a bill that would print the words sex offender—in three places, and in red lettering—on the driver’s licenses of everyone listed on the sex-offender registry in the state.

Hill says that he was moved to support the legislation after a constituent raised the specter of sex offenders dropping into schools and day cares and scooping up their children, though he admits he’s never heard of such a thing happening. He added that the law could also come in handy at “malls, grocery stores, retail outlets—all kinds of places where children are.”

At a meeting on Wednesday, Tennessee House transportation committee chair Rep. Vince Dean pushed back against the bill. “Is it your intention to cause that person embarrassment if they, say, go to buy a pack of cigarettes or a pack of Copenhagen?” he asked, adding: “It brings to mind that, maybe, a scarlet letter put on his breast might work as well.” “Well, if you thought that was necessary,” Hill replied, “that would be fine.”

Like many states, Tennessee already has dozens of regulations for controlling the behavior of released sex offenders, including requiring them to stay 1,000 feet away from schools and day care centers under most circumstances. But the law does allow registered offenders to drop off and pick up their own children at schools, day cares, and rec centers and to attend meetings with administrators, so long as they’ve notified the institution of their sex-offender status at the time of their kid’s enrollment. The state also prints a code on the backs of sex offenders’ driver’s licenses that alerts police to their status and allows inquiring minds to search the state’s registry for the names, locations, and photographs of offenders on the list. ..Continued.. by Amanda Hess

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