The U.S. Justice Department’s proposed regulatory changes to the Adam Walsh Act are seen as a victory for states, reports Stateline.org. The proposed changes to the 2006 federal law concerning sex offenders address some of its most controversial provisions, which many states have criticized as cost-prohibitive and overly strict. The act ramps up criminal penalties for sex offenders who fail to register with authorities and requires states to group offenders into “tiers” based on the severity of their crimes. States also must include more personal information about sex offenders that appears on public registries, such as their home and work addresses.
If states do not comply with the law by July, they stand to lose 10 percent of their funds under a congressional grant program that pays for local anti-crime initiatives, including police salaries. Many states disagree with key provisions of the law that they see as too strict, including a stipulation that some juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 be placed on public registries. Youth advocates and others have said that posting images and personal information of juveniles can lead to harassment, and that juveniles should not be grouped with more serious, adult criminals. The changes proposed give states the discretion to decide if they want to include juveniles on their registries. Under another proposed change, sex offenders whose crimes pre-dated the passage of the act, and who have exited the justice system, would not be forced to abide by its registration requirements.