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Public Statements

Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, enacted in 2006, is landmark legislation intended to keep our communities--and most importantly our children--safe from sex offenders and other dangerous predators.

This bipartisan bill strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement, extended Federal registry requirements to Indian tribes, and authorized funding for several programs intended to address and deter child exploitation.

The centerpiece of the Adam Walsh Act is the national Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA. SORNA's goal is to create a seamless national sex offender registry to assist law enforcement efforts to detect and track offenders. SORNA provides minimum standards for State sex offender registries and created the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, which allows law enforcement officials and the general public to search for sex offenders nationwide from just one Web site.

H.R. 3796, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012, reauthorizes two key programs from the original Adam Walsh Act--grants to the States and other jurisdictions to implement the Adam Walsh Act sex offender registry requirements, and funding for U.S. Marshals to locate and apprehend sex offenders who violate registration requirements. These programs are crucial to efforts to complete and enforce the national network of sex offender registries, particularly in light of the already-passed July 2011 deadline for the States to come into compliance with SORNA. H.R. 3796 reauthorizes both these programs at levels commensurate with their fiscal year 2012 appropriations.

The bill also makes changes to the SORNA sex offender registry requirements in response to feedback from the States. The bill changes the period of time after which juveniles adjudicated delinquent can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry for a clean record from 25 years to 15 years, and provides that juveniles do not need to be included on a publicly viewed sex offender registry. Instead, it is sufficient for juveniles to be included on registries that are only viewed by law enforcement entities. The bill, as amended by the Judiciary Committee, also reauthorizes grants for the treatment of juvenile sex offenders. I believe these provisions strike an appropriate balance between being tough on juveniles who commit serious sex crimes but understanding that there can be differences between adult and juvenile offenders.

The Adam Walsh Act has already been a public safety success. To date, the Justice Department has deemed 50 jurisdictions substantially compliant with the SORNA requirements, with two Indian tribes meeting this goal in just the 2 weeks since the Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 3796 at markup.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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