January 6, 2012
Many states still resisting federal sex offender mandates
This new Stateline piece, which is headlined "States struggle with national sex offender law," provides an effective update on the continued state resistance to federal sex offender provisions from the Adam Walsh Act. Here are excerpts:
Six years ago, Congress passed what is known as the Adam Walsh Act, aimed at protecting children from predators by collecting sex offender data in a national public registry and requiring those people listed in it to report their movements to law enforcement. Adam’s law required states to place convicted sex offenders in one of three tiers, based on the severity of their crimes....
The vast majority of states did not comply on time. As the five-year deadline of July 2011 was approaching, only four had met the terms of the law. The Obama administration issued new guidelines earlier in 2011 that gave states more discretion in implementing the act and clarified how to share information, and in the past year, 12 more states have become compliant. But most still are not, even though they will lose 10 percent of their justice assistance grants from the federal government in fiscal year 2012 as a penalty for inaction.
It’s not that states are uninformed about the law; it’s that they have substantial objections to it. Many see it as an unfunded mandate requiring them to spend millions of dollars collecting information and placing it in the national registry. They are reluctant to bear the cost of updating their own technology to register digital fingerprints, palm prints and DNA, and of paying for the additional time that law enforcement officers would spend processing sex offenders who appear before them in person.
Advocates for juveniles also complain about what would be a lifetime listing for some juvenile sex offenders, which they say goes against any commitment to rehabilitate juveniles, rather than punishing them for long periods of time.
Last month, Pennsylvania became the 16th state to sign on to the act, just barely averting the federal aid penalty. Pennsylvania changed its previous law to add juveniles to its registry and require out-of-state and homeless people convicted of sexual offenses to register with law enforcement....
But many other states are continuing to voice their objections to what the federal law expects of them. Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures, expects states to continue to press Congress for more discretion about which offenders to place on the three-tiered national registry, and for how long. Currently the law requires that convicted sex offenders, including juvenile offenders, remain in the registry for anywhere from 15 years to life, depending on the severity of their crime.
To ask for modifications in Adam’s law to render it less strict is a politically difficult request. Even in the face of compelling evidence that the federal law needs to be amended if all states are to comply, Congress may be reluctant to make changes. “It’s a political argument, and nobody wants to be seen as soft on sex offenders,” says Frederick. “The parents of these children come to committee hearings and share their stories, and it’s very difficult to look those parents in the eye and say we need to have flexibility for registering offenders.”
In the absence of changes to Adam’s law, however, some states will argue that complying with it is simply not worth the costs. Even though they lose 10 percent of their justice assistance money, that is usually less than they would end up paying for compliance. Ohio, which was the first state to become compliant in 2007, had within two years spent about $10 million just defending itself against lawsuits from offenders sentenced to the registry, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In contrast, Ohio would have lost only about $2 million for non-compliance during the same period.
These calculations may be the main reason why other large and budget-challenged states such as Texas, California, and New York have not taken steps to comply. A Texas Senate study conducted in 2010 found that implementing the act in that state would cost about $39 million, in comparison to a loss in federal grants of $1.4 million per year. Texas legislators have also argued that the state’s current sex offender system, which was handling 66,587 registered sex offenders as of June 2011, is already backed up and that imposing another layer of requirements would only add to the strain of struggling law enforcement agencies.
January 6, 2012 at 09:54 AM | Permalink
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Here's a copy (large pdf) of the Texas Senate report mentioned at the end of the article. The Adam Walsh Act and the committee's decision to reject it, which turned out to be decisive, is discussed in the first "interim charge" beginning on p. 13 of the pdf.
Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 6, 2012 10:16:02 AM
After 5 years and rejection by 35 states, it's time to repeal the 10% penalty for noncomplying states. Any Republican or Democrat in Congress who cared the tiniest amount about federalism would support such a repeal.
Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Jan 6, 2012 11:04:24 AM
if the feds really think this is such a good law, why don't they pay for it?
of course, the only thing I really see objectionable from a state's perspective about this law is that its an unfunded mandate.
Posted by: virginia | Jan 6, 2012 11:55:03 AM
Any rational person would realize that the Adam Walsh Act (as are most Sex-Offender Laws) are a POS.
We should repeal all law regarding the SO registry. That there are 6 times more SOs in Oregon per capita compared to Pennsylvania alone demonstrates the arbitrariness and capriciousness of these laws. Many have never touched anyone!! (and I don't mean CP).
Posted by: albeed | Jan 6, 2012 4:14:40 PM
albeed: "there are 6 times more SOs in Oregon per capita compared to Pennsylvania alone demonstrates the arbitrariness and capriciousness of these laws."
me: are you sure that this just doesn't mean that there is something about Oregon which makes it particularly attractive to icky pervs? And conversely something about Pennsylvania which makes it particularly unattractive? :P
Posted by: virginia | Jan 6, 2012 5:21:00 PM
Oregon is where Xavier Von Erck is from and he is the founder of Perverted Justice of MSNBC's "To Catch a Predator" and it is possible his stings in California were illegal.
Penal Code section 31.
All persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission, and all persons counseling, advising, or encouraging children under the age of fourteen years, or persons who are mentally incapacitated, to commit any crime, or who, by fraud, contrivance, or force, occasion the drunkenness of another for the purpose of causing him to commit any crime, or who, by threats, menaces, command, or coercion, compel another to commit any crime, are principals in any crime so committed.
Xavier Von Erck guilty of attempted child molestation?
What I want to know is if the stings were illegal was it prosecutor misconduct to go forward with the cases?
Posted by: Anon | Jan 6, 2012 8:01:19 PM
how true anon i KNOW they were illegal in georgia in fact at once time the people he targeted tried to get the state to enforce it's own laws and they refused of course.
Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 7, 2012 1:43:05 AM
The Fascist SO Laws are for Femi-Nazis to use to think they control men. Growing up in the terrible 1960s, I knew many compatriots (male and female) who at the age of 13-18 were fooling around (anywhere from kissing, necking to actual sex), you know anywhere from from 1st to 4th degree CSC, who were NOT TRAMAUTIZED FOR LIFE BY THESES CONSENSUAL ACTS.
The numbers I provided are self-evident to any rational thinking person, i.e., non-lawyer. The reason that laws were created to remove consensuality from the equation was to make prosecution easier.
The age of puberty was historically around 13-14. It is this age in many current parts of he world. Anyone accused of fooling around with people of this age should be fined no more than a speeding ticket if the act(s) were consensual. Below these ages, criminal sanctions should apply (these are your icky pervs).
This comment only deals with actively consensual acts.
Force, coercion, incapacitation or active deception should be prosecuted severely. However, this would require our current prosecutors to actually work.
Posted by: albeed | Jan 7, 2012 9:46:46 AM
I am an advocate for reforming sex offender laws so that they actually address the serious problem of child sexual abuse, which the ones in place today most definitely do not. The AWA and all aspects of it are counter-productive to protecting children as they divert all resources and attention away from the cause of over 95% of child sexual molestation.
Posted by: Shelly Stow | Jan 7, 2012 9:50:59 AM
I am a therapist and mother of a mentally ill man who was falsely accused of hurting a child many years ago. The girl recanted to an ex-homicide commander, now head of a national voice-testing company. The states attorneys office in Maryland wasn't interested, even though he had no prior record when this happened in his 30's. Finally, the innocence project took on his case but much damage has been done to my son and our family. I have learned how much the sex offender laws and the hysteria fomented by the drama-driven media and overly zealous prosecutors have caused terrible injustice and harm to people who never deserved it.
FOR THOSE WHO CARE TO KNOW WHO IS MOSTLY ON THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY.
If someone is 19& has a girlfriend 15 or 16& it's consensual -If someone reports it (often malicious), if someone gets drunk & urinates in a public place, if someone sees a teen prostitute (Even if she lied abt her age), if someone streaks or moons someone, they can& do end up on the registry. Oh,& the "child" porn-?almost all of it is teens. Is there NO difference in your mind bet. a man going after a 10 yr. old & someone LOOKING at a 15 or 16 yr. old posing nude or doing something sexual on the net? Distinctions don't seem to matter when it comes to sex offenses.Why is that? With other crimes, it matters.
No wonder they couldn't find Garrido .so many on the registry that don't belong there, that bloated it. These laws are so unjust, so extreme. But the self-righteous, hateful, off with their 's fanatics want to bring back Salem. I hope more rational minds will prevail. The registry may serve to unduly frighten many parents, may titillate those who use it for amusement but make no mistake, it is ruining people's lives who don't deserve it. Right now there are so many non dangerous people are on there. Some have been murdered or else killed themselves. I guess the fanatics are happy about that. " If you care about justice, educate yourself and help us in this David-Goliath fight Catching and persecuting people who don't deserve it doesn't help protect our children from the ones who do.
Read Jim and Nancy Petro's book "False Justice" and Richard Wrights' "Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions" See the movie "Conviction" and Sean Penn's "Witch hunt" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0C2aQprdIM
Posted by: pat winchild | Jan 8, 2012 10:57:21 PM
Thank you. I agree with EVERYTHING you said. However there are some government tools and ignorant fools who comment on this blog WHO HAVE NO IDEA how many harmless and good people are persecuted by these MEANINGLESS laws.
(icky pervs) - NOT!
Soronel - Where is the Texas data you requested? I know, the check is in the mail.
Posted by: albeed | Jan 8, 2012 11:27:58 PM
albeed: "The Fascist SO Laws are for Femi-Nazis to use to think they control men"
me: thank you for removing all doubts that you are a sexist pig who longs for the days when married women were the legal property of their husbands and unmarried women and girls were the legal property of their fathers.
albeed: "Growing up in the terrible 1960s"
me: must have been tough to do with your stone age attitude.
albeed: "knew many compatriots (male and female) who at the age of 13-18 were fooling around (anywhere from kissing, necking to actual sex"
me: you realize that I am a child of the 1980s and began my teenaged years in the 1990s. So, needless to say, I'm not exactly impressed with your argument. You do not want to know how boys and girls in my middle and high school caught veneral diseases. You really do not want to know many girls in my middle and high school became pregnant. And you most definitely do not want to know how many of the fathers were over the age of 21 (even when the mothers were in middle school) - because it totally disproves your insistence that men having sex with 13/14 year old girls is harmless.
But while I think I have explained this before, not all sex offenders are icky pervs - icky pervs are people who commit sex offenses against children. That is why I differential between rapists and icky pervs.
Posted by: virginia | Jan 9, 2012 12:36:10 PM
I wish everyone would read pat winchild's post above, and read carefully. There are so many falsely accused who are found guilty, and they have children. The harm done to these children are unimaginable! But, what pat winchild points out is ALL the many mix-ups in this sex offense system. Nobody wants these sweet little girls like Jessica, buried alive! Nobody! The most evil people do not want this. It must be prevented. But, that has so little to do with the "sex offense system." In fact, I wonder how many offenders who have done something to a little girl, something which is not good for her, but something she will get over quickly, I wonder if they then murder her out of fear of a life in prison, maybe for touching in the wrong place, or some such thing. This is hurting so many people, why can't something constructive be done about it?
Posted by: Dana | Jan 9, 2012 7:07:17 PM
Your many insults do not bother me at all. Please respond when you become more mature, less wet behind the ears and have experienced much more of life.
Your post tells me that you majored in Women's Studies and then went on to Law School.
I am a sexist pig? I worked many jobs from delivering newspapaers to bartending to working in labs and sewer cleaning to make ends meet. I have "carnal knowledge" of only one woman over my life and that is my wife of 37 years.
Your insults indicate that you have been publically indoctrinated, er, I mean educated your entire life.
I have coached girl's middle school basketball teams, for free. I would not wish such torment on my worst enemy. (PS: We were really good and had fun.)
I give over $1500 dollars to a local women's shelter every year (with a matching 50% retirement foundation gift).
I used to listen kindly to the many women employees who worked for me from your generation no matter how boring they were. This was my biggest mistake. Their precious Johnnies and Sallies were all so special.
They were like all of God's childen for the past 30 generations, no better no worse.
Only the politicians and MSM are much worse now!
Posted by: albeed | Jan 9, 2012 10:31:37 PM
albeed: "Your post tells me that you majored in Women's Studies and then went on to Law School."
me: wrong, it was history :P
Oh and perhaps calling you a sexist pig was uncalled for, but the feminazi line was idiotic when Rush Limbaugh first used it and its even more idiotic now. If you want to make a serious argument, its best to avoid it.
But what do you mean, I'm immature? :(
albeed: "I have "carnal knowledge" of only one woman over my life and that is my wife of 37 years."
me: in all sincerity, I hope you understand that my objection to adults having sex with teenagers is based upon the regret that I'll never be able to say something similar which has made me realize that teenagers should not be having sex with anyone - especially not adults who are presumably mature enough to know better. Giving free range for men to have sex with teenaged girls - and really exploit their immaturity would result in a complete disaster - the age of consent exists because teenagers are children and children are not mature enough to engage in sex responsibility.
Posted by: virginia | Jan 10, 2012 6:37:47 PM
Erika, perhaps you would care to explain why our government and society did not collapse in the first 100 years before the progressive 20th century, and should Thomas Jefferson have been instituialized for seeking a young teen bride?
Posted by: Anon | Jan 10, 2012 7:31:35 PM
I am not calling for teenagers to (for lack of an accurate description) be fooling around.
I just think that many of the punishments fail to represent distinctions in the actual actions that were performed.
Again, to make prosecutions easier.
Posted by: albeed | Jan 10, 2012 7:48:23 PM
anon: "perhaps you would care to explain why our government and society did not collapse in the first 100 years before the progressive 20th century"
me: aren't you forgetting that entire civil war thingy? sounds suspsiciously like a collapse of government to me especially when you consider that the 14th Amendment radically altered the concept of government.
as for collapse of society, the late 19th and early 20th centuries was marked by numerous panics, depressions, general strikes, industrial accidents, farmer revolts, riots, graft, corruption, terrorism, lynchings, private police forces beating people up and shooting them, communist, socialist, fasicist, and whatever movements seeking to radically change the government, social displacement, and general chaos. and yes, you can make a pretty strong argument if you look at that entire great depression thingy, complete social collapse.
anon: "should Thomas Jefferson have been instituialized for seeking a young teen bride?"
me: possibly, his documented fondess for sex with women in bondage who he regarded as his property and young teen girls marks him as a likely icky perv.
of course, as the rainbow of complexions present in the united states demonstrates, jefferson was hardly alone - but that may just mean that we have an entire country founded by icky pervs ;)
Posted by: virginia | Jan 11, 2012 6:35:15 AM
albeed: "I just think that many of the punishments fail to represent distinctions in the actual actions that were performed."
me: I will just flat out ask you - do you ever think that there is predatory behavor involved when an adult has sex with a teenager? If you do not want to get distracted by the gender aspects - is it predatory behavior if a female 35 year old middle school teacher has sex with several of her 14 year old male students?
Posted by: virginia | Jan 11, 2012 6:40:02 AM
Yes and No!
Posted by: albeed | Jan 11, 2012 10:54:19 PM
LOL good one albeed!
yea erika i'm sure society will consider the female a predator...but TRUST ME every one of those 14 year old male's is now heading for the gym to recount for thier fellows all the fun they had with GREAT BIG SMILES on their faces!
Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 12, 2012 1:03:56 PM
Rodsmith, would your answer be the same for a 35 year old male middle school teacher having sex with several of his 14 year old female students?
How about a 35 year old male teacher having sex with 14 year old male students?
How about a middle school teacher staging in class orgies?
I'm sorry, but considering that 14 year old boys were barely worth even considering to have sex with as a "sophicated and mature" 14 year old girl, any adult woman who has sex with one has something seriously wrong with her. In fact, I think that any adult who has to troll middle schoolers to find a date has something seriously wrong with them - and yes, are sexual predators.
Albeed, what exactly would be an example of an adult engaging in predatory behavior? And please do not say a 35 year old male teacher having sex with several of his 14 year old female students - let's end the double standard between male and female sexuality :)
Posted by: virginia | Jan 12, 2012 4:55:17 PM
Define having sex, then we can talk.
Is it hugging? Is it consoling someone in their misery? Is it perhaps touching someone over their clothes? Is it an innocent kiss on the forehead, cheeks or lips?
In our society, all of the above can be described and are prosecuted as sex crimes.
And often are.
Posted by: albeed | Jan 12, 2012 9:44:59 PM
albeed: "Define having sex,"
me: I was so ready to start rolling my eyes at you because I still subscribe to the defintion of sex that every teenaged girl knows - namely that sex is like so totally obviously sexual intercourse only - before I realized you actually asked a decent question. That is because I was sloppy with my language and used the same word with two different definions since I mentioned homosexual activities.
Anyway, regardless of what defintiion of sex I use in my personal life, "sex" in the sense I am talking about should be more properly phrased as the more inclusive "sexual contact" - that would include obviously any sort of sexual penetration as well as intentional touching of sexual organs.
Posted by: virginia | Jan 12, 2012 10:50:40 PM
"Rodsmith, would your answer be the same for a 35 year old male middle school teacher having sex with several of his 14 year old female students?"
Nope since unlike boys the girls have spent the last 30years being programed that sex with older men is ICKY! unlike the boys who are just NOW getting that programming.
"How about a 35 year old male teacher having sex with 14 year old male students?"
nope again that one has been programed to be ICKY as well and so far the gay rights groups have not made much headway in changing that one!
"How about a middle school teacher staging in class orgies?"
LOL again no! for one thing unless done in a SEX ED! class it would be completley inappropriate activity during school hours.
"I'm sorry, but considering that 14 year old boys were barely worth even considering to have sex with as a "sophicated and mature" 14 year old girl, any adult woman who has sex with one has something seriously wrong with her. In fact, I think that any adult who has to troll middle schoolers to find a date has something seriously wrong with them - and yes, are sexual predators."
on this last...i AGREE COMPLETELY! but we were talking about WHAT the boys though. if they felt like VICTIMS and right now absent FORCE i doubt it!
Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 13, 2012 1:45:03 AM