The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“Act”) is a U.S. federal statute enacted to protect the public, especially children, from violent sex offenders, by implementing a more comprehensive, nationalized system for registration of sex offenders. The Walsh Act was signed into law in 2006. This Act was named for Adam Walsh, a U.S. boy who was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and later found killed.
The majority of the provisions of the Act are codified at 42 U.S.C. §16911 et seq. The Act mainly aims to:
1. Provide a revised sex offender registration system.
2. Make amendments to the child and sex related federal criminal laws.
3. Provide child protective grant programs.
4. Conduct programs and campaigns to prevent and punish sex offenders, and those who victimize children.
5. Improve federal criminal law enforcement to ensure sex offender compliance with registration and notification.
6. Provide access to information and resources needed to ensure that children are not attacked or abused.
Some provisions of the Walsh Act are discussed below:
Pursuant to the Act, the attorney general is responsible for issuing guidelines and regulations in interpretation and implementation of the provisions of the Act.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is a part of the Walsh Act. The Act creates a national sex offender registry. The Walsh Act calls for state conformity to various aspects of sex offender registration, including information that must be collected, duration of registration requirement for classifications of offenders, verification of registry information, access to and sharing of information, and penalties for failure to register as required. The data to be provided include information such as the offender's name, address, date of birth, employer, and photo. Pursuant to the Act, if the U.S. states fail to comply with the federal requirements within three years of the implementation of the act, the non complying states will be subject to a 10 percent reduction of the byrne law enforcement assistance grants.
Each jurisdiction must include the following information for each offender in the registry: a physical description; the criminal offense; the criminal history of the offender, including dates of arrests and convictions and correctional or release status; a current photograph; fingerprints and palm prints; a DNA sample, a photocopy of a valid driver's license or ID card; and any other information required by the attorney general.
The Walsh Act defines and requires a three-tier classification system for sex offenders. The Act mandates Tier 3 (most serious tier) offenders to update their whereabouts every three months with lifetime registration requirements. Tier 2 offenders are required to update their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration, and Tier 1 offenders that includes minors as young as 14 years of age must update their whereabouts every year with 15 years of registration. Failure to register and update information is a felony under the law.