May 26, 2015

Fees offset cost of tracking sex offenders in Hamilton County

Did they apply for and get any GRANTS?
5-26-15 Tennessee:

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has spent $37,000 so far this fiscal year to monitor 368 of the county's registered sex offenders, but the office also has received $26,400 from offenders to offset that cost.

The sheriff's office is tasked with checking the addresses of registered sex offenders, ensuring they follow the rules of the registry and registering new offenders.

The revenue comes from an annual $150 fee that every registered offender in Tennessee is required to pay. Of that, $100 goes to a local agency that monitors the offender and $50 goes to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The money from the fees can be used only on registry-related expenses, said Don Gorman, director of administration at the sheriff's office.

Those expenses often include computer equipment, cameras and overtime for deputies who work special sex offender operations, Detective Mike Cox said. He is the one full-time officer who handles the sex offender registry at the sheriff's office.

The revenue from offenders is also used to replace Cox's car every four or five years, Gorman said. In the proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the sheriff's office asks to increase the sex offender registry budget from about $46,000 to $68,000, and that's earmarked for a new vehicle, he said.

"It can only be used by the detective who works in sex offender," Gorman said. "We put 30,000 to 40,000 miles on those vehicles a year, so by five years they're pretty beat up."

Registered sex offenders are also required to check in either quarterly or annually with the sheriff's office. In 2014, deputies took out 93 warrants on sex offenders who violated the registry in some way, Cox said.

Offenders can violate the registry in myriad ways, from failing to pay the annual fee to stepping foot on public school property when children are present.

There are about 567 registered sex offenders in Hamilton County. The offenders who are not monitored by the sheriff's office are tracked by their probation and parole officers. ..Source.. by Shelly Bradbury

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