Was Sex Offender Exempt From Work-Release Law? - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Was Sex Offender Exempt From Work-Release Law?

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Convicted sex offender Daniel Deeter Convicted sex offender Daniel Deeter
Correction Commissioner Gayle Ray Correction Commissioner Gayle Ray
Sumner County Sheriff Bob Barker Sumner County Sheriff Bob Barker

By Phil Williams

There are more questions about a convicted sex offender that NewsChannel 5 Investigates caught roaming the streets of Gallatin with no supervision.

Among the questions: why did no one enforce a law that's supposed to keep your children safe? And was the sex offender -- a man with a history of interest in preteen girls -- was exempt from that law?

Under state law, it's illegal for sex offenders like Daniel Deeter to get work release.

Yet, our investigation discovered Deeter had been checking himself out of the Sumner County Jail, working a day job as a cement truck driver for more than three years.

After work, our hidden cameras caught him hanging out at a local Sonic.

"He really should not be leaving the secure perimeter at all," said Tennessee Corrections Commissioner Gayle Ray

That law passed in 2008, and Ray's department immediately pulled sex offenders like Deeter from prison work-release programs.

"We felt that the intent was there and it was important enough that we need to bring in any sex offender who had been on work release back inside the secure perimeter," the commissioner added.

But Sumner Sheriff Bob Barker said, "The person that we had designated in our office, the sheriff's office, that keeps up with sex offenders wasn't under that impression."

Barker explained that his office believed that Deeter was exempt -- since he was already out on the streets when the law passed.

"Had he had a change -- let's say he had quit his job or had been terminated or came back in -- he no longer would have qualified," the sheriff said.

Still, the commissioner says Deeter -- with his 10-year sentence -- should have been sent to a state prison a long time ago. "He's somebody that really needs to be with us."

Her department has identified about 2,500 inmates statewide in similar circumstances.

"People in the department assumed that there was a prioritization taking place, according to the length of sentence and violent crimes and so forth. We've discovered that's not true."

State Rep. Debra Maggart, a Republican from Sumner County, was one of the sponsors of that 2008 law. She concedes that, at the very least, it may not have been clear.

The state picked up Deeter after NewsChannel 5 started asking questions, and he's now in a state prison.

The sheriff said state prisons have a limited number of openings, and his people made the best decisions they could on who needed to be shipped out.

Commissioner Ray said her department has now identified 395 inmates most in need of transfer to state prisons.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com
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