States that miss a third federal deadline to tighten oversight on the nation’s 700,000 convicted sex offenders should be given more time before losing millions in aid dollars, Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told Scripps Howard news service. Allen said federal authorities should consider allowing states another extension to meet the requirements of the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. It requires, among other things, that states build uniform sex offender registries.
The center works with federal, state and local law enforcement to protect youth, and has assisted extensively in implementing the Walsh law. The law’s congressional sponsors want the U.S. Department of Justice to begin penalizing states that don’t meet next July’s deadline. Allen said that “because of the delays in the initial generation of guidelines and because of the complexities of the challenges many states faces — fiscal as well as operational — I do not think it is outrageous to suggest additional time extensions.” Only four states — Delaware, Florida, Ohio, and South Dakota — have complied with the law. A driving idea behind the Walsh law was that state registries did not sync with each other, making it easy for sex offenders to evade oversight by traveling to other parts of the country. Authorities have lost track of 100,000 convicted sex offenders nationwide, Allen’s group says.