Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 to create uniform national tracking standards for sex offenders. President Bush signed it amid White House fanfare. But...
Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 to create uniform national tracking standards for sex offenders. President Bush signed it amid White House fanfare. But some of the law's supporters are starting to wonder whether they were given a fancy photo op, and not much else. "Was it feel-good legislation to make the victims feel better," asks Stacie Rumenap, of Stop Child Predators, "and then put no money into the bill?"
So far, the answer appears to be yes. Congress has left funding for Justice Department programs on autopilot for the past couple of years, so the Adam Walsh Act has received only limited dollars for operational costs, and no grant money has been available to states. As a result, not one state is ready to meet some fairly steep compliance requirements that are scheduled to take effect in July.
All states have some form of registration and community notification rules for sex offenders, but enforcement varies widely. The federal law was meant to regularize procedures and penalties, so offenders wouldn't have any safe harbors. But compliance would cost cash-strapped states millions they're not willing to spare.
That's a fair excuse, says Roxanne Lieb, of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. "You don't have to argue about the justifications, the political merit of the enterprise." That's especially true because the law was passed in Washington, D.C., not the state capitol. "If it had been a state law," Lieb says, "the officials responsible for making the decisions about Adam Walsh wouldn't have had the same authority to argue about the cost."
The law's supporters hope that Congress will push back the deadline and send states more money for it. "I still think it will be a significant law," says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "But states need help."
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
LATEST PUBLIC SAFETY & JUSTICE HEADLINES
Obama Adjusts His Legal Strategy in Immigration Case30 minutes ago
Texas Lawmakers Can't Even Agree on Texting-While-Driving29 minutes ago
Philadelphia School Official Accused of Giving $900,000 Contract to Associates20 hours ago
Former Chicago Alderman's Aide Gets Prison Sentence for Bribery20 hours ago
Nebraska, the First Conservative State to Ban the Death Penalty Since '7323 hours ago
Medical Marijuana Clears Legal Hurdle in Florida23 hours ago