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Kerry, Massachusetts Prosecutors Work to Protect Children from Sexual Predators

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Kerry, Massachusetts Prosecutors Work to Protect Children from Sexual Predators

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), co-chairs of the Senate Prosecutors Caucus, today held a roundtable to discuss the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law raising the standards of sexual offender registries nationwide.

Kerry was joined by Mary Beth Heffernan, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Criminal Justice, Geline Williams, the executive director of the Massachusetts District Attorney's Association and Jennifer Stark, an assistant Attorney General from Martha Coakley's office.

"As former prosecutors, our caucus knows first hand the difficult challenge law enforcement faces every today to protect children from sexual predators. We want to make sure Congress does all it can to help prosecutors protect innocent children who can't protect themselves. Today's meeting helped begin a new and important dialogue and coordination with the men and women on the front lines of this fight. We had a good discussion about sex offender statutes and how we can best implement them in our communities," said Senator Kerry. "I am grateful to all those that participated in this event and we will continue to work together to bring leadership, clarity and resources to this important issue."

"Protecting children from sexual predators is one of the biggest challenges we face in law enforcement today. We appreciate Senator Kerry's and the Senate Prosecutors Caucus' attention to this issue, and we look forward to continued collaboration with both Congress and other state agencies as we work to prevent crimes against children," said Attorney General Martha Coakley.

"Massachusetts has unique constitutional challenges in implementing SORNA. We are grateful to Senator Kerry and Senator Graham for convening this forum to discuss these challenges with our colleagues in other states who have similar issues. We will continue to work with the SMART office and our congressional delegation as we navigate these challenges," said Undersecretary Mary Beth Heffernan.

"The Adam Walsh Act constitutes a Congressional mandate on the states to construct comprehensive, consistent minimum standards for the registration and classification of sexual offenders and public notification as to their whereabouts. This is a vital issue of public safety, and many states, including Massachusetts, are addressing very complicated issues regarding compliance with this new law. The Massachusetts District Attorneys greatly appreciate Senator Kerry's initiative in bringing together the key decision makers who can assist the states. Today's forum has been extremely helpful for Massachusetts, and the fact that the Governor, Attorney General and District Attorneys were all represented bespeaks the seriousness of this issue," said Geline Williams, Executive Director of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was signed into law in July 2006. This law is an important step forward in our Nation's efforts to protect children by strengthening Federal laws to protect our children from sexual and other violent crimes. States have until July of 2009 to come into compliance otherwise they risk losing federal criminal justice funding. The Senate Prosecutor's Caucus is a forum for prosecutors to discuss their issues with implementation and hopefully reach a resolution.

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