A federal law that requires states to establish a new system for registering sex offenders by 2009 is prompting some states to mandate retroactive registration – forcing offenders to register even if their crimes were committed before registry laws went into effect. Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, states have until next year to establish a tier system for offenders to register for 15 years, 25 years or life, based on the nature of their offenses.
Though the law does not mandate retroactive registration, Tennessee passed a law last July requiring it. The law applies to anyone who has ever been convicted of a sex offense that requires registration, said Kristin Helm of the Tennessee Bureau for Investigation. At least two other states are moving in that direction. A Michigan House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would force adults convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a child to register, regardless of conviction date. And a Senate committee in Missouri is considering a resolution that would require almost all sex offenders to register, regardless of conviction date. If passed, the measure could appear on November ballots.