TDOC uses team approach to monitor sex offenders in Tennessee

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Every day, the Tennessee Department of Corrections uses GPS technology and officers to keep track of around 2,100 sex offenders assigned to community supervision.

Around 400 of those offenders live in Nashville.

“Public safety is something TDOC will not compromise on ever,” Assistant Commissioner of Community Supervision Alisha James said. “Whatever lengths we have to take we will do it.”

All sex offenders are given a risk and needs assessment when they are released from prison. They are also assessed to find out their risk to re-offend and a psycho sexual evaluation.

The offenders are also monitored for at least the first 30 days by GPS.

“After that point depending on the risk and needs assessment we will move them to the supervision level as needed,” she said. “Some sex offenders can be on for much longer than 90 days.”

Probation and parole officers also make surprise home visits to make sure offenders are compliant with the terms of their release and laws governing sex offenders.

“High risk sex offenders are sometimes seen 7 times per month,” Assistant Commissioner James said. “That is part of our containment model with our officers and sex offender treatment specialist in the community so it is a multifaceted approach.”

She continued, “We are discussing with those treatment advisors the progress of that individual but also holding them accountable to make sure they are where they are supposed to be.”

TDOC does not monitor all sex offenders in the state of Tennessee. The department monitors specifically sex offenders assigned to community supervision as part of probation or parole.

Depending on the sex offense, the sex offender may be assigned to community supervision for life.

They are then held to higher scrutiny throughout the rest of their lives.

“We can search their drawers, we can search their refrigerators to make sure there is no alcohol in them, we also make sure they do not have internet capabilities,” Assistant Commissioner James said. “We will look at cell phones to see if there is any social media or internet access, which is prohibited.”

The department can also set up inclusion zones so the GPS monitoring will alert the department if a sex offenders goes to an area they are supposed to avoid or if they tamper with their GPS device.

“If we get a master tamper we will send officers out in the field at 2 o’clock in the morning or even on Christmas day,” Assistant Commissioner James said.

To check on sex offenders living in your area, the TBI has a registry based on zip code.