While a federal appeals court upheld Tennessee’s sex offense registry law, it acknowledged that restricting where people on the registry can live, work and travel is potentially unconstitutional.  The court said that the plaintiffs had not sued the right people, so the court cannot do anything about it.

Additionally, the judges said that categorizing registrants as violent or non-violent sexual offenders based on the crime they were convicted of without an individualized assessment may be questionable under court precedent.

Evan Mealins, a justice reporter for The Tennessean, says, “There is little to no proof that sex offender registries are effective at reducing crime.

“The effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings” by Kristen M. Zgoba and Meghan M. Mitchell, 2021, concluded the following:

  • SORN policies demonstrate NO effect on recidivism.  
  • This finding holds important policy implications given the widespread adoption and growing list of penalties related to SORN. 
  • SORN policies may prove to be more harmful than helpful. 
  • Resources need to be allocated to focusing only on the high-risk individuals.  
  • It is time to make empirically informed decisions, not ones based on emotions.
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