States Consider Costs, Benefits on Adam Walsh Act

I’ve been off the JJ beat this week, focusing primarily on other stuff, but I wanted to flag this important story from Stateline, an online daily that covers state politics: “Will States Say ‘No’ to Adam Walsh Act?” Good question.

The 2006 federal bill, as many know, requires states to adopt tougher standards on registering, monitoring and releasing information about sex offenders. As Stateline correctly points out,

Strenuous objections also have been raised by states and advocacy groups over some of the act’s provisions. One in particular has raised concern: a requirement that some juveniles as young as 14 be listed on states’ online sex-offender registries. Most states do not include juveniles on online registries, and juvenile-rights advocates say listing young offenders on the Internet could subject them to harassment or violence.

It’s concerns like those, among others, that have prompted many state legislators to consider whether the funds they would receive through compliance would be worth the problems it would create. Particularly given the two-thirds cuts in Byrne JAG funds that states are facing this year (a few weeks ago I wrote about the impact this cut will have on states’ abilities to protect public safety), taking another hit by failing to comply with the Adam Walsh Act may not be so damaging.

“What’s 10 percent of nothing, anyway?” asks Susan Parnas Frederick, senior committee director of NCSL’s Law and Criminal Justice Committee in Washington. Another good question. 

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