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Regional & National

ACLU says library ban on sex offenders too broad

September 17th, 2011 8:19 pm by Staff Report

KNOXVILLE (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has asked Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to rescind his new policy banning sex offenders from county libraries.

Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said the policy was "overly broad and raises a host of constitutional issues," according to the letter sent on Friday and posted online by the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/peY18U ).

Burchett on Monday said that sex offenders are no longer welcome in county libraries, but said they could use the system's online services and have someone else check out and return materials on their behalf. He said they could face misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges.

The county's policy is based on a new state law that gives public library directors the authority to "reasonably restrict the access of any person listed on the sexual offender registry."

The letter from the ACLU said some material cannot be checked out online, like reference books. The ACLU also said that a federal court in Albuquerque struck down a similar ban.

Burchett said it appeared the ACLU wanted to file a lawsuit.

A sponsor of the bill has said the law's intent wasn't to bar offenders, but to let librarian restrict their access to times when children aren't gathered at libraries.

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Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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