Six years ago, Congress passed what is known as the Adam Walsh Act, aimed at protecting children from predators by collecting sex offender data in a national public registry and requiring those people listed in it to report their movements to law enforcement, says Stateline.org. Adam's law required states to place convicted sex offenders in one of three tiers, based on the severity of their crimes. The act, named for a 6-year-old boy who was kidnapped and murdered in Florida in 1981, gave the states five years to comply.
The vast majority of states did not comply on time. As the five-year deadline of July 2011 was approaching, only four had met the terms of the law. The Obama administration issued new guidelines that gave states more discretion in implementing the act and clarified how to share information, and in the past year, 12 more states have become compliant. Most still are not, even though they will lose 10 percent of their federal justice assistance grants as a penalty. Many states are continuing to voice their objections to what the federal law expects of them. Susan Frederick of the National Conference of State Legislatures, expects states to continue to press Congress for more discretion about which offenders to place on the three-tiered national registry, and for how long.