TN: Registry to life sentence: TN courts remove dozens from sex offender registry after legal challenges

Source: 8/9/23

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars as more people file lawsuits claiming they shouldn’t be restricted by a registry that didn’t exist when they were convicted.

Dozens of people have since been removed from the registry as a result, with dozens more potentially on the way.

Thomas spent more than 20 years on Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry but now considers himself a free man. His case is still being appealed, so we’ve agreed to stick with first names for his protection.

 NewsChannel 5 Investigates first met Thomas in 2022, and that’s when he shared his story about being convicted of raping a family friend back in 1996, who died years later.

He was sentenced to the Lifelines treatment program, but then violated his parole and was sent to prison. Thomas was released in 2003, completed his parole, but remained on the sex offender registry.

Thomas has lived much of his life away from the public since then, but on this day, we sat outside his Nashville home as he clutched a green thermos from his late wife.

Dressed in his work clothes, Thomas waved and greeted neighbors passing by with their children. Most know his name by now, but not because they know his story.

It may seem ordinary and maybe even routine at times, but this is what Thomas has been searching for since we first met.

“Everybody is exercising. Everybody is living. I’m talking about, this is living,” Thomas said.

You may not know Thomas, but before April 4, you could find almost everything there was to know on Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry.

Thomas accepted a plea deal in 1996 but says he was convinced by an attorney that his prior record would make it almost impossible to win over a jury.

Thomas says he accepted the plea agreement without understanding that this crime would now make him eligible for the newly established sex offender registry.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates doesn’t often hear from people like Thomas, because once you find out he’s been on the sex offender registry almost as long as it’s been around, we understand he’s not the easiest person to want to relate to.

We’re not here to say whether Thomas committed the crime.

What we know is that he’s been on the registry for years, only to now have his name removed in 2023.

“When I got that letter that it was off me, I couldn’t do nothing but cry,” Thomas said.

Civil rights attorney Kyle Mothershead represents Thomas and he’s using virtually the same argument he’s used for many others.

“This was not the law when you committed your offense, then they made it up after the fact and that’s against the constitution,” Mothershead said.

Read the full article


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How would this apply to someone here in CA when at the time of the offense, it was an offense that was not allowed to be on the public site but now is, due to SB384? Isn’t that similar? The Static 99R score was not a factor with the old law, and now the law changed and my fiancé is made public for the first time ever without a warning or due process or any proof that he is now deemed a risk to the public. His score has always been the same. His offenses are expunged, so how he can be rehabilitated and a risk at the same time? Is there anybody who could assist with this case?

Good for him 🙏🏽 Every state should follow the leader, anyone who was convicted before these life time punitive rules were enacted should be released ASAP their rights are being violated and the longer they get forced on these barbaric registries, forced to comply with rules, that restrict their everyday ability to live a normal life these registries were not even in existence when they were sentenced they should be compensated for everyday they have been forced to comply with retroactive laws or so called rules that have violated their lives. Enough is Enough!

When’s all this going to end and the registry just be outright banned? Oh… Never. Just keep dancing all the legalese to keep the cursed thing in operation. I might have to move to Florida when I start to feel deathly ill so I can be on the registry after I’m dead… Bunch of clowns.

These cases in TN are absolute proof that the registry is punitive! How can anyone at all say that it is not, when someone who completed their sentence, went on about their life as a productive citizen, then was mandated to participate in the registry, only to have it completely alter their once quiet life, is not punitive? We’re not in grade school anymore and this isn’t rocket science here.