DOJ Gives States More Leeway On Teen Sex Offenders

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New federal guidelines should make it easier for states to show they are registering juveniles convicted of certain sex offenses, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange reports. The Department of Justice issued guidance that says states will have greater flexibility to show they are in compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). SORNA, part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, requires states to include on sex offender registries juveniles who are 14 or older and adjudicated delinquent for serious sex offenses. The law also includes registration requirements for adult sex offenders.

Under the new guidance, if a state is not in “exact conformity” with the law’s provisions, federal officials will consider other factors that show whether a state’s discretionary policies still meet the requirements. Officials will consider how states prosecute juveniles as adults for sex crimes, register juveniles adjudicated delinquent for sex crimes, identify, track, monitor or manage adjudicated juveniles in the community, and keep records of adjudicated juveniles for public safety purposes. Most states do not comply with SORNA, and juvenile registration is often a sticking point for officials who doubt its efficacy, said Nicole Pittman of the Center on Youth Registration Reform at Impact Justice. A subcommittee of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice has recommended that juveniles who were under 18 at the time they committed a sex offense should be exempt from sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws.


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