NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Could hundreds of sex offenders be removed from the state’s sex offender registry? That’s the worry from some victim advocates following a federal court decision this week affecting two convicted sex offenders in Tennessee.
The lawsuit was filed by two anonymous convicted sex offenders, John Doe #1, and John Doe #2, who said Tennessee’s sex offender registry act should not apply to them.
That law, passed in 2004, required the two to register as sex offenders and obey distance requirements when finding a place to live or work.
But the two committed their crimes before the state legislature created the sex offender registry; so this week, a federal court ruled the registry was unconstitutional with regard to the two sex offenders because the registry punishment was created Ex Post Facto – or “after the fact” of their original crime.
“If you commit the crime, they cannot increase the punishment later, just on the whim of the legislature,” said Ed Yarbrough, attorney for the two offenders.
But the bigger impact could still lie ahead: the decision could open the door for someone to challenge Tennessee’s entire sex offender registry — potentially lining up any sex offender who committed their crime before 2004, to be removed from it.