There has been a lot of Adam Walsh Act related news lately. The State of Wisconsin has requested an extension on the deadline to comply with the Walsh Act. From MSNBC:
Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials say they will likely have to add thousands of people to the list to comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
The 2006 act requires the state to add juveniles to its online registry, add more details on offenders, and create classes of registrants who appear for different lengths of time. It sets a July 1 deadline for these changes.
No state is yet in compliance.
The director of Wisconsin's sex offender programs, Melissa Roberts, says the state will apply for a one-year extension so it has time to change its technology and get changes made to state law.
Meanwhile, Nevada legislators are considering whether the Walsh Act's supposed benefits are worth the costs. From the Las Vegas Sun:
The Adam Walsh Act was an instant controversy in Nevada. As soon as state lawmakers adopted the federal sex offender legislation in 2007, lawyers drew up lawsuits that have kept it tied up in court to this day.
But all the debate between advocates and attorneys over whether the Walsh Act is legal or logical now seems for naught. In this economy, the real question is not whether the Walsh Act is constitutional, but whether it’s too expensive. By many calculations, it is.
Sex offender management boards in California and Colorado have recommended their states reject the Adam Walsh Act — which changes the way states track and monitor sex offenders — in part because of the crippling cost. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, Virginia and Texas, are also doing the math and finding that the federal standard seems more expensive to adopt than to ignore, no matter the penalty.
And there are penalties. States have until July 27 to become compliant with Walsh sex offender regulations or risk losing federal finding. In Nevada, meeting the deadline could safeguard hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But carrying out the provisions of the Walsh Act could cost millions. In a state where the budget is beyond tight, we don’t know what the Walsh Act would cost. While states around us scramble do to the math, nobody in Nevada is crunching the numbers. So with the deadline for compliance looming, no one knows whether Nevada going to spend millions to save thousands.
Part of the reason Nevada doesn’t know how much Walsh will cost may lie in the state’s speedy adoption of the federal act. Nevada is one of eight states that passed Walsh regulations after Congress approved them in 2006. The vast remainder of states instead chose to evaluate the Walsh Act, considering its constitutionality first and then its cost.
Concerns now coming to light in these states were barely discussed in Nevada. Instead, issues with Walsh are being worked out in Nevada courts as a result of those lawsuits levied against the act.
Finally, Massachusetts may not be legally able to comply with the Walsh Act as the state's high court has ruled that sex offenders must be given hearing before they are classified by level. From the Boston Herald:
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act - named for the brutally murdered 6-year-old boy whose father became a crusader against predators - was passed by Congress in 2006. More than two years later, there’s been little progress toward one of the law’s landmark provisions: establishing the first-ever national system to keep tabs on those who have committed sexual crimes.
So far, no state has been deemed compliant with that law.
To be sure, adopting the law is complex. It requires instituting a new, uniform federal system for classifying the creepy cons.
But the law would serve a serious purpose: putting states in contact to make it much more difficult for sex offenders to cross state lines and escape the system.
Gov. Deval Patrick ’s Executive Office of Public Safety is working with Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office to find a way to institute the new rules in the Bay State. And while officials refused to comment publicly on their struggle to do so - no one wants to be seen as being soft on violent sex fiends - the powers that be privately acknowledge that the law is considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Judicial Court.
The SJC has ruled sex offenders have due process rights and are entitled to a hearing before they are classified by level. But Bay State officials believe that such rulings aren’t compatible with the Adam Walsh Act, which requires “immediate” classification and posting of information about offenders. Instead of the deliberative Sex Offender Registry Board taking into account past offenses and the age of the criminal, the federal law would lump offenders into one of the three tiers based solely upon their type of crime.
States have until July to prove they’re complying with the federal mandate, or they risk losing a portion of federal anti-crime funding. And for their part, Bay State officials insist they’re committed to complying with as much of the law as they can.
But victims’ rights advocates such as Laurie Myers don’t understand why it’s taking so long for the tracking system to get off the ground.
“It seems sex offenders always get the support from people who should be looking out for our interest,” said Myers, a member of the non-profit Community Voices. “Time and time again, sex offenders get breaks in this state. It seems like foot-dragging to me.”