Big Changes to Sex Offender Registry

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - You'll soon get a new tool to protect you and your family from sexual offenders. This weekend the, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will release an online mapping program.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's been researching how the new device works.

TBI says the information is new. It's an easier way to see just how close you might live to a sex offender, but the number of names you can find could up after this weekend.

A few quick punches on the keyboard and Cory Bond won't ever look at his Knoxville neighborhood's the same again.

"There is one a few doors down. It would appear for the possession of child pornography," Brown said.

That "one's" a registered sex offender. One of nearly 10,000 registered in Tennessee. Just...

"Three doors down and I had no idea of that," Brown said.

Found by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's new online mapping program.

"I was shocked, really shocked. I'm still in shock to know that," Kristin Bond said.

On the current TBI site, you type in your city or zip code and you just get a list of registered offenders' addresses close to you.

"A lot of times we may see a street listed on there, but may not know exactly where that is," TBI spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said.

So starting July first the new mapping program.

"Actually shows you a map," Johnson said.

A street--by--street layout...with the offenders in bright yellow. So TBI says you'll know exactly if and when a sexual predator pops up in your neighborhood and how close they are to your street."

"It beats getting the information, getting a map out, and trying to to compare it to yourself," Johnson said.

And the new map will also show you offenders you could never see before. The names of offenders convicted before July 1, 1997 have been blocked from your mouse. Until now.

"What the new law does is remove that barrier so in essence every single sex offender who's registered will appear on the website," Johnson said.

Now sex offenders also must register with T.B.I even if they've committed sex crimes in other states.

"What would happen is people would move here simply so they can hide out. This law removes their ability to do that," Johnson said.

Because of the new mapping program this father of three knows...

"There's a registered offender on my street. It's the only one in the neighborhood," Bond said.

But he's says one's enough. We talked with several convicted sex offenders here in Knoxville on the phone. Only one would comment about the new mapping. He says it's a good thing. He paid the price for his crime, and anything that holds him more accountable, makes him less likely to do it again.

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