States may be able to shield most juvenile sex offenders from inclusion on a public registry and still achieve compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, based on the experience of Ohio, the only state so far to be deemed compliant by the Justice Department, reports Youth Today. Ohio used an inclusion standard for juvenile sex offenders that appears significantly narrower than the standards spelled out in guidelines produced by the Bush administration Justice Department in 2008, yet the state's plan was approved by the Obama Justice Department. Obama is set to appear tomorrow on “America’s Most Wanted” to endorse full funding for the Walsh Act.
The Sex Offender Registry Notification Act (SORNA) aspect of the Walsh Act has caused increasing angst on both sides of the federal-state coin. States face a financial penalty if they don't comply with SORNA and the Justice Department faces embarrassment if only one of the 50 states can get in line with the act by the July deadline, which was pushed back from last summer. Many juvenile advocates hate the SORNA requirements because they require states to put at least the most serious juvenile offenders on a publicly viewed list. The requirements also mandate that states can include whichever juvenile offenders they want in addition to the minimum requirements. Ohio is one of about 15 states with a juvenile blended-sentencing statute, which enables judges to impose adult sanctions in juvenile court.