Full implementation of a 6-year-old Nevada law may soon cause a dramatic increase in the number of registered sex offenders — raising questions about whether the intended punishment fits the crime, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. One legislator suggested dumping part of the “terrible, overly harsh law” as it applies to juvenile offenders. Congress approved the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 as a guideline for state laws on sex crimes. It was intended to toughen punishment for sex offenders, including making their photos, names and addresses available to the public. Nevada adopted most provisions of the federal law in 2007, reacting in part to concern the state could lose federal grants for law enforcement.
Now, thanks to a Nevada Supreme Court decision in October, the state will likely expand the sex offender roll from the current 3,000 names by requiring anyone convicted of a felony sex crime or crimes involving children since 1956 to register. No one knows how many more offenders will be added to the list, but the expansion has raised concerns that people who were convicted long ago but who have never re-offended will be publicly humiliated, lumped in with serial rapists. Of particular concern are people whose youthful indiscretions will suddenly become a scarlet letter haunting their adult lives.