ADAM WALSH CHILD PROTECTION AND SAFETY ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - July 25, 2006)
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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation, which embodies a bipartisan and bi-cameral agreement that includes important provisions to protect children.
The bill will create a National Sex Offender Registry with uniform standards for the registration of sex offenders, including a lifetime registration requirement for the most serious offenders. This is a vital step to improve the current patch-work quilt of 50 different state systems for identifying and tracking sex offenders. The bill also authorizes much-needed grants to help local law enforcement agencies establish and integrate sex offender registry systems.
Under the bill, states will be required to maintain sex offender registries accessible to the public on the Internet and to make failure to register a felony. Sex offenders will be required to provide DNA samples and will be subjected to more frequent in-person verification of information about their residences and workplaces.
The bill targets child-exploitation enterprises and registered sex offenders who commit offenses against minors, including obscene visual representations of sexual abuse of children and sex trafficking of children. It includes several provisions designed to better combat child pornography, including authorizing civil and criminal asset forfeiture in child pornography cases. And it authorizes new grant programs that will help local law enforcement agencies combat sexual abuse of children by enabling them to hire more people, add computer hardware and software, and take other steps to apprehend sex offenders who violate registry requirements. It also authorizes a new grant program for the National Crime Prevention Council, a private, nonprofit organization that has expertise in promoting crime prevention programs through public outreach and media campaigns.
The bill also authorizes 88 new prosecutors within the U.S. Attorneys' Offices to prosecute child sex offenses, including child exploitation, child sexual abuse, and child obscenity and pornography offenses. It authorizes 10 additional Justice Department task forces to address Internet crimes against children. It authorizes the Justice Department to provide grants to states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations to establish and maintain programs to educate children and parents on the best way to be safe using he Internet. It authorizes the Justice Department, in consultation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to develop and carry out a public awareness campaign to demonstrate how to better protect children when using the Internet. And it authorizes the Justice Department to provide fingerprint-based background checks to child welfare agencies as well as to private and public educational agencies so they can carry out background checks on prospective adoption or foster parents, private and public teachers, and school employees.
As a cosponsor of H.R. 4005, the National Police Athletic League (PAL) Youth Enrichment Reauthorization Act of 2005, I am also glad to note that the version of the bill now before the House includes provisions similar to those of that bill.
The PAL program brings youth under the supervision and positive influence of a law enforcement agency and expands public awareness about the role of a police officer in the local community and reinforces responsible values and attitudes instilled in young people by their
parents. It utilizes educational, athletic and recreational activities to create trust and understanding between police officers and youth. It is based on the conviction that young people--if they are reached early enough--can develop strong positive attitudes towards police officers in their journey through life toward the goal of maturity and good citizenship.
A volunteer-driven organization with an estimated 80,000 volunteers across the country supporting all levels of programming, PAL has a 90-year history of caring and providing alternatives for youth at risk. Today, it offers structured and personal guidance in a safe, friendly environment and provides a variety of activities, from organized competitive sports, recreational activities, arts and educational programming to cultural and social skill development programs. This bill will help it carry out that important work.
I do have concerns about some aspects of the bill, including a provision allowing some juvenile offenders over 14 to be included in publicly available sex offender registries. However, on balance I think this is a good, strong bill and I support its enactment.
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