Financial Burdens the Main Reason States Aren’t Signing On to Adam Walsh Act


Many states seem to have concluded that complying with the 2006 federal Adam Walsh Act that requires them to join a nationwide program to track sex offenders would be far more expensive than living without the penalty of millions of dollars in government grants for criminal justice, reports the Associated Press. “The requirements would have been a huge expense,” said Doris Smith of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Lawmakers weren’t willing to sign on, even though the state will lose $226,000. The law was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking sex offenders that would link all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal lands. Sixteen states have complied, most recently Pennsylvania.

Besides the financial burden, others have resisted the federal law’s requirements on offenders, especially certain juveniles who would have to be registered for life. In Arizona, for instance, offenders convicted as juveniles can petition for removal after rehabilitation. In Texas, a Senate committee conducted two years of hearings and recommended that the state disregard the law, citing concerns about juvenile offenders and other new mandates. The committee’s report acknowledged the loss of an estimated $1.4 million. That figure paled when compared with the cost to implement the changes, which could have exceeded $38 million. California, the nation’s most populous state, risked losing nearly $800,000 in funding this year, but a 2008 estimate put the cost of complying at $32 million.

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