GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee’s sex offender laws are so lax, the Giles County sheriff says offenders are crossing the Alabama border to move to Tennessee.
Kyle Helton has been the sheriff of Giles County, which borders two Alabama counties, for 11 years.
Helton says he has recently seen an increase in the number of sex offenders who have moved to his county.
“That’s what I’m seeing. It creates more sex offenders in our county and creates more work for our people to track them,” the sheriff told News 2.
According to Helton, Alabama has some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country.
In the state of Tennessee, a sex offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of a victim. Alabama’s law is twice is tough, and sex offenders must stay at least 2,000 feet away.
When it comes to staying overnight with children, Alabama’s law is crystal clear – no sex offender is allowed an overnight visit with a child under the age of 18, and that includes the offender’s biological children.
In Tennessee, a sex offender can live with their biological children as long as they are not the victim of that crime.
“They admitted to our staff that’s the reason they moved here,” Sheriff Helton says.
Case in point, deputies arrested Josh Hendon last year. The one-time Alabama sex offender faced multiple crimes, including child rape.
Giles County investigators told News 2 that in 2015, Hendon moved just over two miles from northern Alabama to Giles County.
He told lawmen he moved to Tennessee so he could live with his two biological children.
While living in Tennessee, detectives say he sexually assaulted a Giles County girl not far from where he moved.
“[It] troubles the neighboring counties as well and they realize that and word of mouth gets out and one sex offender tells another one that the laws are less stringent, so move up there and there are less hoops for them to jump through and therefore, that’s why they are moving to Tennessee,” Lt. Shane Hunter said.
In addition to more sex offenders in Tennessee, Helton says it requires specific things of law enforcement.
“It is a lot of manpower to get them signed up and monitor where they are living,” he explains.
According to the executive director of the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, 42 of Tennessee’s 95 counties touch another state which presents unique problems for Tennessee law enforcement on many issues ranging from pursuits to extradition to sex offenders crossing state lines.