U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) says most states, including North Dakota, have not fully complied with a federal law he helped write that would help the public, police and prosecutors better protect kids from sexual predators. The law, the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act," contains provisions of "Dru's Law," which Dorgan authored and named to honor the memory of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin who was abducted from a Grand Forks shopping mall and murdered in November 2003.
Dorgan is asking the U.S. Justice Department to step up efforts to bring states into compliance, and to begin withholding federal funds from states that still have not met requirements of the law by next summer, the five year anniversary of its enactment.
The "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006" empowers police, prosecutors and the public with a variety of new tools to protect children from sexual criminals, including a more standardized sex offender data base, increased penalties for criminal actions, and a Web site that allows the public to search for information on sex offenders by geographic region.
One of the primary purposes of the Adam Walsh Act was to ensure that sex offender data is consistent and easily shared between states. While progress has been made toward this goal, most states have yet to fully implement the provisions required in the Act. That fact weakens the overall effectiveness of the law.
"Some jurisdictions believe they have alternative approaches that improve upon the provisions," in the law, Dorgan wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. "It's possible that some of them are correct. However, not coming into compliance with the law is the wrong approach. If there are better ideas out there, Congress should consider them on their merits and amend the Act. Until that happens, all entities mandated by the Act need to achieve the compliance that is required of them."
In his letter to U.S. Attorney General Holder, Dorgan said there should be "no good excuse" for states to remain in noncompliance by next summer, five years after the law was enacted. He asked Holder to continue to encourage states to comply with the law, but by next summer, start withholding federal funds allocated under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 from those that still have not fully implemented the provisions of the law.
Below is the letter that Senator Dorgan sent to U.S. Attorney General Holder.