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January 24, 2008

Sex offenders and the city states: the AWA's many (trivial?) pursuits

Sex_and_cityBoth Sex Crimes and Sex Offender Issues have posts spotlighting what a mess the new federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is starting to make in the states.  This strong article from Stateline.org, headlined "Will states say 'no' to Adam Walsh Act?" provides this essential background:

Facing a 2009 deadline to comply with a controversial federal law intended to crack down on sex offenders, states are nearing a crossroads.  They either must fall in line with the statute or ignore it and absorb the penalty — a 10-percent cut to their share of funds in a congressional grant program used to fight crime.

With most state legislatures reconvening this month, debate is likely to resume soon over the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President Bush signed in 2006.... For months, however, state legislators across the country have criticized the law as a “one-size-fits-all approach” that does not give states enough time, money or flexibility to make the changes sought by the federal government....

[S]tate lawmakers are questioning whether it makes sense to comply with the act by its 2009 deadline, if at all, said Donna Lyons, a criminal justice analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), an alliance representing the nation’s state legislators.  The organization recently released a policy statement — approved unanimously by more than 7,000 state lawmakers — seeking congressional amendments to revise the act....

States use Byrne grants to pay for drug task forces, anti-gang units, police overtime and other law enforcement activities. But funding for the grant program itself was slashed by 67 percent — from $520 million last fiscal year to $170 million this year — in a $555 billion appropriations bill signed by Bush last month.  That deep cut has figured into state lawmakers’ thinking as they compare the costs of complying with the Adam Walsh Act with the costs of not complying, said Susan Parnas Frederick, senior committee director of NCSL's Law and Criminal Justice Committee in Washington. “What’s 10 percent of nothing, anyway?  Maybe we’ll just do what we’re doing, lose the 10 percent and not have to deal with all this garbage,” Frederick said. 

At least six states — Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Ohio — last year revised sex-offender laws in an effort to comply with the act. The Justice Department rejected Louisiana’s efforts as not enough, and has yet to rule on the other states’ laws, many of which went into effect Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, while some state legislatures try to figure out if the Adam Walsh Act sex offender game is worth the Byrne grant candle, state judges having to deal with new state legislation are already up in arms.  Consider this report from a Cleveland Plain Dealer article today:

Summit County judges will join their counterparts in at least four other Ohio counties in refusing to enforce provisions of the state's new, tougher sex-offender registration law.  The eight judges of Summit's general trial division will act this week to either issue a stay to block all of the affected cases from moving forward or issue a preliminary injunction in each case they hear.  At issue are a host of potential contradictions and constitutional questions arising from the state legislature's attempt to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act....

There have been 80 challenges to the law filed in the past week in Summit County.... In Cuyahoga County, about 300 sex offenders have filed civil suits challenging their re-reclassification...

[Summit County Common Pleas Judge Elinore Marsh] Stormer said the problem is compounded because the legislature moved quickly, without consulting the sheriffs, prosecutors, judges and other state and county officials who would have to implement the new law.  "While the intent was to retain federal grant money underwriting many criminal justice programs, we have no idea how much it's going to cost to administer the new program, and to address the legal challenges," Stormer said.

January 24, 2008 at 04:18 PM | Permalink


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Another consideration is that the Supreme Court has not weighed in itself on many aspects of AWA. For instance, residence restrictions and GPS monitoring are natural results of registration in general, as well as the lack of housing and working opportunities for low-level offenders based on the fact that the Internet registry promotes. Once a few of those cases are heard at that level, the AWA itself can be exposed for constitutional violations en masse.

Posted by: storac | Jan 24, 2008 9:29:52 PM

Nearly every state registration scheme currently falls outside what the Supreme Court found constitutional. In upholding the SOR, the Court found the lower court erred in determining unconstitionality based upon the law's requirement the offender appear annually in person. The Supreme Court found the Alaska law did NOT require annual in-person appearances, and was therefore constitutional.

Posted by: Ilah | Jan 25, 2008 10:13:10 AM

America better wake up. The politicians are preying on a naive public with looking like they are tough on crime fighting "sex offenders". People had better do their research on this subject. And Retroactive application of laws is wrong and WILL BE A VERY SLIPPERY SLOPE. Marc Dann may have saved the 10% from the Federal Government but does he tell you it will probably cost 5 times that to implement this law that does nothing to protect us. DO THE RESEARCH. Plus, we have SO MANY sex offenders now, how do you really know when one is dangerous (especially since 60% went from low level offenders to PREDATORS in Ohio with the new AWA?????) Home-owners really need to care about this law---IF a sex offender lives next to you or moves in next to you---GOOD LUCK trying to sell your house & watch the value plummet. Hopefully you will have a drug dealer, murderer, or thief be your ex-felon neighbor---your house value won't be affected nearly as much. Maybe Marc Dann can help us with that too.

Posted by: Slippery Slope in Ohio | Jan 26, 2008 3:14:31 PM

I am the mother of three daughters, two of whom were assaulted by their biological father(my ex-husband). The county it occured in refused to prosecute and now the state refuses to go for civil commitment. I live on a daily basis with the behavioral and emotional problems that they are suffering from. I personally believe that these laws need to be stronger in several ways. I think that the registration rules/laws or whatever you choose to call them, must be stronger as well as the punishment. I didn't know about my ex's criminal history the entire 11yrs I was married to him and you can believe that if I had been told, I NEVER would have been with him. His parents knew, law enforcement knew and nobody ever thought to tell me. Here's what I am trying to do here in my state...

1. Allow full access to the sexual predators history, treatment and incarceration information.
2. Harsher punishments even for first time offenders.
3. Make sure that men and women that repeat any sort of sex crime are incarcerated indefinately at their own expense, not the tax payer. (Here's how: Force them to work for the state and use what they would have made to pay for their treatment during their incarceration.)

I have my own opinions on this issue and I feel very strongly that something needs to change to prevent the kids and other people from getting hurt anymore.

Posted by: Tanya P. | Aug 22, 2008 10:49:22 PM

Tanya P's post proves exactly what is wrong with the current state of sex offender laws today. Someone is victimized, then relies on emotional appeals to make these laws "stronger." This mantra has not reduced sex crimes in America one iota. This has played out many times with the same results. Think about how many sex offender laws are named after hgh-profile victims. Each law named in honor of one of these victims is touted as an "effectve tool" in deterring sex crimes, a foolish belief that lasts only as long as the time till the next high profile case comes along to prove the law was ineffective. How many times to we have to follow this formula before people wake up and realize these laws DON'T WORK!

Tanya also proves the punitive nature of the laws. Because of her personal experience, she supports HARSHER PUNISHMENTS and stronger REGISTRATION rules, and access to all records. Would you, the people, like me digging through YOUR personal records? There is something Tanya and the rest of the public fail to consider. Even if you execute everyone convicted of a sex crime, you still fail to address around 90% or so of sex crimes, because those crimes are committed by people NOT on the registry. Tanya said her husband had a CRIMINAL record but does not mention prior sex crimes. Of course, far more sex crimes are committed by people who do not have criminal records PERIOD.

When are we going to start using COMMON SENSE rather than emotional appeals to address an issue in this country? Not ONE mention was made by Tanya in promoting prevention progms, for treatment options for Former Offenders, or for education. Instead she suggests the same INEFFECTIVE and COUNTERPRODUCTVE measures to the issue. Tanya merely illustrates how our desire for revenge and retribution shapes public policy.

Posted by: The Fallen One | Sep 9, 2008 10:15:30 AM

PS: I have a fact guide on the Walsh Act on my website


Ohio is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit. Many other states would rather take the 10% cut rather than spend millions more on laws they know DO NOT WORK! Even many victim's rights advocates oppose the law because THEY DON'T WORK!

Posted by: The Fallen One | Sep 9, 2008 10:19:05 AM

When my daughter at the age of 11 spoke to her counsilor about something her step-father had done to her I recieved a visit from CPS. Withing days they told me there was nothing they were going to do. My daughter in turn ended up spending time on two accasions in mental hospitals over this. Soon after my four year old began telling me to touch her like her daddy did and pointed to her vagina. The CPS social worker told me this was a commmon statement for a four year old. My guess is when my 11 year old was removed from the picture as we were beginning divorce procedings he moved on to my youngest (his biolagical). When the county did nothing and I continued doing everything I could within to law for over a year, including taking both my children through counsiling and my youngest to the doctor when she complained, but having the doctor tell my that "yes, she has iritation inside the vaginal area, but for all I know she fell on a stick." He said she was to young to determain what had really happened to her. I finally took my children and ran when I couldn't watch her screaming for days when going to the bathroom any longer. What else could I do? My two abusive vindictive X husbands portrayed an untrue version of me on AMW. AMW did not check their facts on the story. Had they done so, they would have found a police report opposite of the fight portrayed on AMW the night my first husband was arrested. They would have also found a story from a police officer speaking of the night my first husband threatened me with a gun. They may have also noticed my spending time in a woman's shelter during my second marriage. One doesn't check into a shelter for no reason. Had they thought more on my daughter's journal entry asking for help and researched her pain before we left, they would have realized her asking for help was not asking to be found, but was asking for justice against the man who had abused her. Something to this day she has still not recieved. These are just a few things they would have found wrong with thier falsified story. My daughter, now fifteen, called me after they returned her to her father several times wanting to come home. The last time she called just after they filed a restraining order and I had to tell her I couldn't talk to her. She was screaming in terror and begging for me to help her, and there was nothing I could do. My five children are in the custody of abusers. The older three I am not as concerned about, they are older and can take care of themselves better; however, the younger two are with a child molestor, and are probably afraid to say anything after watching what their sister has gone through, and being told that they can not be with their mother. The only one willing to protect them from this man is, in their minds, gone. But no one wants to look into that. I had no choice but to let them go and do what I could for two other children much younger. I had to take a plee agreement to make sure I was available to help raise them. There are many nights I lie awake feeling I made a mistake by not going to trial. Maybe had I done so, some truths could have been revieled to the community. But in Kern County, law enforcement doesn't want the truth, so what choice did I really have? When will the law be truely enforced and the children protected? When will crimes be fully investigated rather then hidden for the sake of an easier day? My two children living with this pedafile need help. Even if it is by becoming a ward of the state and not being with me, they would still be better off; unfortunately, no one wants to hear it. Sex offenders get away with it because no one wants to get involved. It's easier to say it didn't happen then to dig into the truth.

Posted by: children suffering | Sep 10, 2008 10:49:40 AM

"The fallen One" is Derek Logue, a Tier III sexual Predator, who served years of prison time for molesting an 11 year old girl. He is violent, cuts himself and has lost numerous appeals to be reclassified. He is a danger to children.


Posted by: Concerned | Feb 13, 2009 12:13:36 AM

Regardless if Derek is a predator or not, the words he shared are still truth. I am not a sex offender, but I understand the laws, for the general population of sex offenders, are too extreme and degrade a persons dignity under the AWA. Obama needs to step in and overturn this Act so people who have done their time for their crime are not subjected to more public humiliation.
I understand that laws were broken. But why treat the 95% (low level offenders) we do not hear about like the 5% (those who violently abuse and kill, for example) we do hear about? The laws are not fair to most. If this act goes thru, we are all in for a world of pain - all of us.

Posted by: Noah | Jun 17, 2009 12:07:34 AM

Unfortunately most laws pertaining to sex crimes are totally bogus. I do however believe that violent sex offenders should be incarcerated and receive competent psychological counseling. and those that commit rape and murder should have a life sentence. as it is right now a lot of men are in prison for rape that actually was consensual. and what is more appalling a lot of these people will not be able to get out of prison. because the psychologists keep informing the parole board that this person is dangerous to society. they will serve their time and then they go off to a mental institution. where they will remain for the rest of their lives. at our expense yes that's right folks we have money to throw away just ask the government.

Posted by: Ralph Johnstone | Sep 8, 2010 10:13:26 PM

It is a shame the harassing, offending comment was not removed, but it does highlight why registries should be abolished. I've been harassed by these people for four years, gotten midnight death threats, and have websites dedicated to attacking me, yet my website still goes strong. I usually ignore them, after all that same group spread a lie that Patty Wetterling has a son on the sex offender registry.

Posted by: oncefallendotcom | Jun 27, 2011 1:09:41 PM

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