State Rep. Kevin Tanner has been honored by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board.
At the boards December meeting Friday, Tanner received an award for his work sponsoring and getting House Bill 122 passed in the 2013 legislative session.
HB-122 allows the review board and the parole board to share information about sex offenders and what level of classification they should receive. Under previous law, SORRB was not able to access parole records to evaluate sex offenders.
There are three levels of classification. A sex offender given a Level 3 classification must wear a monitoring device at all times.
Katie Strayhorn, chair of SORRB, presented the award to Tanner.
Strayhorn said at first she didnt realize SORRB evaluators didnt have access to parole records.
It really was a jaw-dropping moment to me that parole records were not open to the people who determine whether or not sex offenders are safe in our community, Strayhorn said.
Discussion of the bill came about right after Tanner was sworn in last January. HB-122 was signed by Gov. Deal July 1.
I was genuinely impressed with the amount of work and effort and commitment that was shown by Rep. Tanner to get this bill changed, Strayhorn said. Because I think he genuinely saw the need and is genuinely out to protect the community and thats what were all here forwe all want to protect our communities because thats where our children live, our grandchildren live and where we live.
Strayhorn used a quote from the late South African president Nelson Mandela to describe Tanner: A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. I think that I could not have more accurately described you.
Working on HB-122 hit home for Tanner, largely from his 18-year career in law enforcement. For many years I was the sex offense investigator dealing with all that, so I have a lot of experience dealing with victims of that type of abuse, and I know what type of impact it can have, he said.
Having the all the information about a sex offender when trying to decide his classification level is important to help keep the community safe, Tanner said. Its important they (review board evaluators) get it right, he said. There are three levels of sex offenders, but at the highest level of supervision, they have to wear a monitoring device for the rest of their life. If we dont have all the correct information, they could make a wrong judgement call which could result in an offender not being supervised properly.
Tanner said he thinks his relationships with the parole board through his time in law enforcement helped bridge the gap between SORRB and the parole board.
I knew when Katie brought the issue to me it was a travesty that we had two state agencies both being paid and supported by state tax dollars that because of the law were prohibited from talking to each other, even though they were in the same building, he said.
Tanner said he heard at the meeting that the change in the law already was being put to use. I heard today talking with one of the evaluators that reviews the cases, he said he already had used this ability, Tanner said. So its working the way it was intended to.
Hearing that the bill he sponsored is already useful is rewarding to Tanner. The opportunity to be on the front side creating something and then seeing it implemented and then hearing from the people on the ground its workingthats a rewarding experience.
Strayhorn, who works in the Dawson County District Attorneys office, also was honored by the review board for her work in getting HB-122 passed.
It didnt take seconds before Katie said, Im going to make this happen (HB-122), Tracy Alvord, executive director of SORRB, said. Its amazing with the two of you how quickly that happened.
SORRB was initiated by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2006.
When the House convenes in January, Tanner will be working on introducing a sludge bill, a bill relating to aggressive driving and one allowing military service men and women to purchase an in-state hunting license even if they are stationed out of state. That (hunting bill) was one that was brought up to me during my community meetings, Tanner said.