Congress Should Repeal the Adam Walsh Act
No state has fully complied with the sex offender registration requirements of the Adam Walsh Act, and only four have tried. Some would rather lose their meager crime prevention grants than spend the money it would take to comply. That alone should tell you that this is a bad law.
[The law] requires all states to adopt strict standards for registering sex offenders .... [It] makes it a federal felony to fail to reregister as a sex offender after moving to another state and requires states to toughen their penalties, now often misdemeanors, for failing to register at all.
It also requires offenders deemed especially dangerous to register for life and to renew their registration, usually in person, four times a year. In addition, the law expands the number of crimes for which sex offenders must register and requires states to collect more of their personal information and post much of it publicly.
The federal government needs to get out of the business of coercing states to "toughen their penalties," whether the penalties are for nonregistration or drunk driving. States should fix their own penalties for state crimes without federal interference.
The requirement that an ex-offender renew his or her registration four times a year is an exercise in unnecessary record-keeping that seems designed to trap the unwary registrant who misses a deadline. What's the point of making a stable resident repeatedly renew a registration?
Requiring lifetime registration for an offender who was told at sentencing that he'd have to register for 10 or 15 years is unfair. Telling states that certain crimes must trigger sex offender registration requirements amounts to an unfunded mandate. States are capable of deciding for themselves whether a particular crime merits registration and for how long.
The Adam Walsh Act is another example of the axiom that any law named after a crime victim is a bad law. Kudos to the states that are standing up to the federal government and asserting their right to enact their own criminal laws without federal interference.
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