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Judiciary Committee Passes Reauth of Adam Walsh Act

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), original author of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, issued this statement after the House Judiciary Committee approved the 2012 Reauthorization:

"The fight against child exploitation is not over. Even one story of abuse, is one too many" Sensenbrenner said. "According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a child goes missing every 40 seconds. This reauthorization will ensure that our law enforcement officials have the tools they need to protect children from sex offenders."

"Substantial compliance is attainable for all states. Today the Committee codified into law solutions to some of the states' concerns regarding juvenile sex offenders. The Adam Walsh Act ensures sex offenders cannot take advantage of previous holes in the system to avoid detection. State noncompliance will perpetuate a patchwork system that makes it easier for sex offenders to use these holes and game the system."


The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012 reauthorizes, for five years, the Act's two key programs at levels equal with the most recent appropriation levels. Specifically, the bill reauthorizes funding for the U.S. Marshals' fugitive sex offender apprehension efforts and grants to help the states and other jurisdictions implement the national sex offender registry.
A primary component of the Act is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), which set minimum guidelines for state sex offender registries.
DOJ guidance for state implementation provides minimum requirements for "substantial compliance" that if met, allow states to retain all Byrne funds.
Today the Committee also codified DOJ guidelines from January 2011 that allowed states to place juveniles on law enforcement only records- not a searchable public record.
In recognition of feedback from the states, the Reauthorization also changes the period after which a juvenile adjudicated delinquent may apply to be removed from the sex offender registry for a clean record from 25 years to 15 years.
It is incorrect to assert that the law requires retroactivity for all individuals with prior criminal histories. According to DOJ guidelines, retroactivity only applies to those sex offenders who are still in prison, are already registered under a state system, or who reenter the justice system through a subsequent conviction. Individuals convicted of sex crimes in the past that are out of jail and kept a clean record are not required to register.
Many states' projections of cost are overblown. Ohio's implementation costs, the first state to come into substantial compliance, accounted to around $400,000, much less than the tens of millions that some states are claiming.
There are an estimated 100,000 fugitive sex offenders across the United States who are unregistered or otherwise noncompliant with their registry requirements.

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