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Inside Criminal Justice

Feds Begin Penalizing States That Haven't Adopted U.S. Sex Offender Law

April 12, 2012 04:37:00 am
Comments (10)

Photo by Ryan J Reilly, via Flickr

Nearly six years after the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was enacted, the U.S. Justice Department is beginning to penalize many of the states that have failed to follow its provisions. The latest count shows that only 15 states are in "substantial" compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) parts of the Adam Walsh law, long after a deadline of last July.

The 2006 law expanded the categories of crimes requiring registration and increased the length and frequency of registration for some adults and juveniles. Many states believe that the federal requirements are too costly and burdensome, deciding that they will give up some U.S. anticrime aid rather than retool their sex offender registries in line with the federal law.

The Crime Report previously noted, for example, that Texas had estimated that it would have to spent nearly $39 million to comply with SORNA but would lose only $1.4 million in federal funds if it didn't act.

Some states have declined to comply on policy grounds, most commonly disagreeing with the federal requirement that juvenile sex offenders involved in violent crimes be registered for life. Their first opportunity to ask a court to end their registration would not be available until 25 years after they are listed on a registry, a requirement that some states believe is too harsh.

States had been threatened with a 10 percent cut in aid from Washington. In practice, the cuts ordered by Justice Department will not go so deeply. Only federal money going solely to state governments will suffer the 10 percent reduction, not the relatively large amount of U.S. aid destined for local governments.

This was the course urged by the National Criminal Justice Association, representing states and localities, which argues that local programs "should not be penalized because of a state's policy on sex offender management." As a result, the potential penalty to most states will be cut roughly in half, depending on how much of the state's federal aid ends up in local hands.

The only states in compliance with SORNA are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

All of the remaining 35 states may not suffer a loss of federal funds. If the Justice Department determines that a state is actively attempting to comply with SORNA, its federal aid may continue without interruption. Several more states may comply this year, depending on action by legislatures that may still be in session.

The proportion of federal money that a non-complying state may lose will differ depending on the state's level of compliance. In some states, federal money that otherwise would have gone to anticrime work not involving sex offenders might be shifted to help the state get into compliance with SORNA. The bottom line is that some anticrime programs around the U.S. now will experience funding cuts if they are located in states that have failed to meet SORNA's requirements.


Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington-based contributing editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.

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Posted by Jarod Simmons
Thursday, December 06, 2012 12:31

Not only is SORNA not working, it endangers the community for several reasons, one of which is forcing people underground or unable to find work, place to live or a way to redeem their records and themselves by being able to live as American citizens.

Posted by Ellen
Saturday, November 10, 2012 07:19

I think retroactive punishment of any criminal offender is a violation of state and us constitutional rights relating to ex post facto provisions. Tell me if this was a son or daughter of a higher political individual would they be having second thoughts on this law! STOP and THINK how many human beings and familys that will be ruined for life.

Posted by Zoomie
Monday, July 02, 2012 11:34

Jimmy – not that I disagree with you, but the logic per a Fed Judge decision I read on this is that the SOR is not a punishment but a regulation. And when regulations change, those subject to regs must comply with the new regs (i.e. law changes to say all restaurants must have new fire safety standards, then all restaurants much change to comply or be shut down). So if state’s (to comply with Fed law) change their policy on who is listed on the SOR and for how long, and if all are public listed, vs only the most dangerous, well, its all just compliance with a regulation, not a punishment!! (YEAH, RIGHT!!!)…

Personally, I think much more must be done to educate the public and legislators on sex crimes, sex offenders, the sex offender laws, etc. Can’t count how often on TV shows I’ve heard characters claim “sex offenders” are never “cured” and always reoffend! Only recently did I discover the 80% recidivism rate always cited by legislators is from a 25 year old Canadian study which was incredibly poorly designed (half of the people included in the study already met the definition of repeat offender when they were selected for inclusion, guaranteeing more than 50% recidivism as part of the study design!), and dozens of far more extensive studies since show recidivism rates ranging from 1% up to about 12%.

I recently met a guy who was charged with sexual assault of a minor, facing 20yrs to life in prison. His crime? He’s 22, went to a bar, met a girl there drinking and dancing. They partied for a few hours, then she went home with him, they had sex, in the morning she went home. Turns out his assumption she was 21 or older (ID’s were checked on entry to the bar) was wrong. She used a fake ID and was only 15. But “strict liability” laws say no matter what she did, said, or showed him makes no difference. He was 22, she 15…BOOM! He’s a “sex offender”! Most likely, it’ll be dropped to “attempted” sexual assault, and he’ll do 2-5 years in prison, followed by 25 years on the SOR!

Posted by Mahendra
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 08:09

that is not legal (correctly so).Think of it this way. You live in Nebraska, and regsitered a car here. You then move to Iowa, and regsiter that same car in Iowa. Then Nebraska added a $50 wheel tax to all Nebraska cars. They hit you up in Iowa, even though your car is regsitered in Iowa, simply because it USED to be regsitered in Nebraska. And they tried to put you in jail for not paying the new fee. That’s what Carr is about.For those of you who do not already know this, MANY states are reciprocal in Sex Offender laws. The conditions of my situation may not call for me to be a RSO in Iowa or South Dakota. But if I move there, since I WAS an RSO in Nebraska, I must still follow Nebraska laws. I am still subject to Nebraska restrictions (you know, kind of like probation/parole). SCOTUS now sees this, and says that is not valid.Sadly, there are those people who think States SHOULD be able to operate in this manner. God help our children, what kind of country have we left to them if we promote this type of abuse of rights. Child Protection’ advocats are tearing apart our country and constitution, leaving a trail of destruction in their path.

Posted by Berta Poberesky
Saturday, April 28, 2012 09:40

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Posted by Valeria
Friday, April 27, 2012 02:20

To Kevin Watler; Please accept my apogloy, for I mis-wrote my comment and gave credit to another agency.Now to Cayman 27 News, keep up the good work and reporting that everyone is doing!Please report the truth on both sides of the issues to keep the free people informed, do not give in to censorship, for it truly is a sign of a dictatorship that is starting to take hold.

Posted by Jimmy
Thursday, April 26, 2012 09:52

first DoJ guy your ill-treat read up on separation of prweos.. the government may suggest an Act. such as the Adam Walsh act. and those are guidelines for which a state MAY comply. Meir suggestion! you dorks wrote this law using a state of emergency clause in closed door session (the same one you would use to provide aid to people after hurricane Katrina) and did not allow the people to vote on it. you have since used it on all levels of government to gain votes for re election and go quietly tax payer dollars to implement new technologies and new procedures. Pres Obama says we need education in this people its no wonder he thinks were so far behind take a look at all his co workers. I mean seriously people if the constitution says no state or branch of federal government shall pass any ex post facto laws you only need check wiki to see. An ex post facto law (from the Latin for from after the action ) or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal penalty (or status) of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. so is what your saying is that the constitution of the United States of America is no longer vital? whats next Drunk Drivers Animal abusers parking ticket violators? you guys wake from a take a nap and say oh my god i have this fantastic thought to punish repeat parking offenders then you go back to the first vehicle ever made and start applying this new fantastic thought of yours? who pays for the implementation of this?? yes to awnser your question retroactive application of ANY LAW is in direct violation of the us constitution and punishable as Treason!Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.Thomas Jefferson

Posted by tod
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:56

The Adam Walsh Act is a disgrace that deserves to be ignored by the states, especially those states with more reasonable approaches to sex offender management.

Posted by LTM
Friday, April 13, 2012 09:29

It is so typical of our federal government to penalize and take away 1.4 million and expect the great state of Texas to spend 39 million on enforcing the AWA. Frankly, it is this kind of thinking that has given us an outrageous federal deficit. Not to mention the unfair laws of AWA-SORNA.

As is known we are the only democratic country and the only country internationally to have the most people locked up behind bars. Is this practical? We are the only democracy that incarcerates with a plea bargain about 95% of our prison population. So much for your trial. Are you going to wait until it is your turn to go to court and have your life end behind bars?

Our Constitution is trampled by unreasonable laws undermining the rule of law in our country especially with AWA-SORNA. Your freedoms will soon disappear based on how well our government undermines our Constitutional law using AWA as an experiment and example on how to reduce your freedoms. Tyranny never had it so good.

Posted by oncefallendotcom
Friday, April 13, 2012 11:52

Many states would rather take that 10% cut than pass an expensive law that puts an unnecessary burden on the state. You have to register juveniles and reclassify low-risk registrants into high-risk overnight. This law is bad news and states know it. Missouri is looking to opt out of compliance.

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