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Sex Offender Registry Laws: From Jacob Wetterling to Adam Walsh

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2007
2 pages
This article outlines various changes instituted by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (AWA), with attention to the work of the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehension, Registration and Tracking (SMART) Office that was created under the AWA.
Prior to the enactment of the AWA, national standards for the registration of sex offenders were set by the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. Under Wetterling, the national standards for registration of sex offenders applied to States, the District of Columbia, and principal Territories. Wetterling required residency registration and encouraged registration of employment and school information. The AWA adds Indian tribal jurisdictions and requires registration by sex offenders where they live, are employed, and attend school. AWA increases the penalty for failure to register and allows for State sex offenders to be prosecuted federally for failure to register pursuant to interjurisdiction or foreign travel. The AWA broadens the range of offenses against adults to include crimes that involve sexual contact and includes the crimes of child pornography and conspiracy and extends registration to include certain juveniles convicted only of the most serious sex offenses. AWA establishes three tiers of registration requirements based on offense severity. The AWA strengthens reporting requirements by requiring sex offenders to submit information that includes Social Security number, employer and school information, fingerprints, physical description, photograph, and a DNA sample. A key requirement of the AWA is its establishment of standards that promote greater uniformity across public sex offender Web sites. The SMART Office provides jurisdictions with guidance regarding implementation of the AWA. All jurisdictions are required to implement the minimum standards included in Title 1 of the AWA by July 27, 2009.

Date Published: July 1, 2007