Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Law: Recent Legislation and Issues
Sex Offender Registration
and Community Notification Law:
Recent Legislation and Issues
Updated June 3, 2008
Garrine P. Laney
Analyst in Social Legislation
Domestic Social Policy Division
Sex Offender Registration and Community
Notification Law: Recent Legislation and Issues
Congress has enacted laws to imprison sex offenders and, once they are released
from prison, to monitor their movement in the community. With passage of the
Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994, Congress required states to establish a sex offender
registration program. Since 1994, Congress has periodically amended the act,
requiring closer scrutiny of released sex offenders, increased penalties for sex crimes,
and training for law enforcement personnel. The 109th Congress passed the Adam
Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248) (hereafter, the Walsh
Act), which consolidates and strengthens existing federal laws on sex offenses.
The Walsh Act repeals and replaces the Jacob Wetterling Act and related
legislation with provisions intended to strengthen sex offender registration and
notification requirements. Major provisions of the act include registry requirements
for sex offenders and jurisdictions with penalties for failure to comply with registry
requirements and oversight, periodic in-person verification, a sex offender
management assistance program, a national sex offender registry, a national sex
offender public website, a community notification program, federal assistance in
identifying and locating certain sex offenders, electronic monitoring of sex offenders,
civil commitment of certain sexual predators, enhanced federal penalties for sexual
crimes against children, increased penalties for using the Internet for the exploitation
of children, and grant programs. Also, the 109th Congress added provisions to the
Violence Against Women Act reauthorization (P.L. 109-162) relating to sex offender
management and establishment of a national tribal sex offender registry.
Congress remains interested in the issue of sex offenders. On May 22, 2008,
the Senate adopted two amendments to H.R. 2642, one of which would include $50
million for the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend unregistered sex offenders, and
sent both amendments to the House for their consideration. On May 20, 2008, the
Senate passed S. 431, as amended, which would add a registration requirement for
sex offenders and address monitoring of sex offenders’ use of the Internet. On this
same date, it also passed H.R. 2517, which provides for locating sex offenders and
on May 23, 2008, sent it to the President for his signature.
Other legislation introduced in the 110th Congress include provisions that would
establish and maintain a DNA database on sexual predators, establish a National Sex
Offender Risk Classification Task Force, require a convicted sex offender who uses
the Internet to provide electronic mail and instant message addresses, require a
convicted sex offender to alert jurisdictions of plans to travel abroad, prohibit use of
the Internet to facilitate access to or possession of child pornography, require
electronic communication service providers and remote computer service providers
to report violations of child sexual exploitation and pornography laws, reauthorize
certain Walsh Act activities, and offer grants.
This report provides details of the Walsh Act; analyzes legislation introduced
in the 110th Congress; and discusses continuing policy issues related to sex offender
registration and community notification. It will be updated as events warrant.
In troduction ......................................................2
Overview of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.......4
Registration and Notification and Related Provisions..................4
Tier Classification System...................................5
Information Required from Offenders..........................5
Information to be Included in Registries........................6
Law Enforcement Responsibilities............................6
Community Notification Program.............................6
National Sex Offender Registry...............................7
Sex Offender Public Website.................................7
Penalty for Failure to Register................................7
Federal Penalties, Including Mandatory Minimums,
for Selected Crimes....................................7
Child Pornography and Use of the Internet......................8
Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders...........................8
Treatment and Management of Adult Sex Offenders in the
Bureau of Prisons......................................8
Public Access to Information.................................9
Institutions of Higher Education..............................9
Federal Grants and Assistance....................................9
Training and Technology Efforts..............................9
Assistance with Violations of Registration Requirements..........10
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending,
Registering and Tracking (SMART Office)................10
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Mentoring Program..........10
National Police Athletic League (PAL)........................10
Sex Offender Management Assistance Program (SOMA-Grant)....11
Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde Grants......................11
Sex Offender Apprehension Grants...........................11
Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Grants.......................12
Grants to Combat Sexual Abuse of Children....................12
Crime Prevention Campaign Grant...........................12
Grants for Fingerprinting Programs for Children................13
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).............13
Fugitive Safe Surrender....................................13
Selected Studies and Reports....................................14
Comprehensive Examination of Sex Offender Issues.............14
Annual Report on Enforcement of Registration Requirements......14
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Studies on
Feasibility of Using Drivers License as a Registration
Requirement for Sex Offenders..........................15
Sex Offender Risk Classification Study.......................15
Study of the Effectiveness of Restricting the Activities of
Sex Offenders to Reduce Recidivism.....................16
Justice for Crime Victims Family Act.........................16
Additional Provisions Enacted in the 109th Congress.....................17
Legislation in the 110th Congress.....................................17
Provisions Related to Registration Requirements, Apprehension
and Penalties for Sex Offenders..............................18
Restrictions on Released Sex Offenders...........................20
Monitoring Use of the Internet by Sex Offenders....................21
Locating and Monitoring Sex Offenders...........................25
Sexual and Other Crimes Against the Elderly and Minors.............26
Sexual Misconduct in Educational Institutions......................27
Reauthorization of Certain Walsh Act Activities and Programs.........30
Funding of Walsh Act Programs.....................................30
FY2007 and FY2008..........................................31
Continuing Policy Issues...........................................32
Enforcement of Registration Requirements.........................32
Effectiveness of Community Notification Programs..................34
Federal Funding in Support of Registration and
Training Program to Assist Probation and Parole Officers
or Sex Offender Management Assistance Program...........38
Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998...................39
National Criminal History Improvement Program...............39
Bureau of Justice Statistics Study............................42
List of Tables
Table 1. Recidivism Rate of Sex Offenders Released from Prison
in 1994, by Recidivism Measure and Type of Sex Offender............44
Sex Offender Registration
and Community Notification Law:
Recent Legislation and Issues
On May 22, 2008, the Senate adopted two amendments to H.R. 2642, the
FY2008 war supplemental bill, one of which would provide funding for domestic
programs, including $50 million for the U.S. Marshals Service to track and arrest
unregistered sex offenders. The Senate has sent both amendments to the House for
their consideration. See the section, later in this report, on “Legislation in the 110th
On May 20, 2008, the Senate amended and passed S. 431, Keeping the Internet
Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2007. Among other provisions, S. 431, as
amended, would add another registration requirement for sex offenders and would
address monitoring of sex offenders’ use of the Internet. See the sections, later in this
report, on “Provisions Related to Registration Requirements, Apprehension, and
Penalties for Sex Offenders” and “Monitoring Use of the Internet by Sex Offenders.”
On this same date, the Senate also passed H.R. 2517, Protecting Our Children First
Act of 2007, which would provide for locating sex offenders who have not registered
as required and authorize grants to be used to protect children from sex offenders and
sexual abuse. On May 23, 2008, the bill was sent to the President for his signature.
Two bills related to sex offender legislation, H.R. 5722, the International
Megan’s Law of 2008 (Christopher H. Smith) and H.R. 5760, the Child Protection
Reauthorization Act (Brown-Waite), were introduced on April 8 and 10, 2008,
respectively. H.R. 5722, among other provisions, would expand access to
information on sex offenders who travel abroad by requiring convicted sex offenders
who must register as such to alert appropriate jurisdictions in advance when they
intend to travel internationally. H.R. 5722 would provide for the Secretary of
Homeland Security to notify appropriate authorities in relevant countries of the travel
plans of a sex offender.
H.R. 5760 would amend the Adam Walsh Act by reauthorizing certain of its
programs. H.R. 5760 would extend the authorization for some sex offender
programs from FY2009 to FY2011. The bill would also amend the Omnibus Crime
Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 by extending the authorization for sex offender
apprehension grants and juvenile sex offender treatment grants from FY2009 through
FY2011. See the section, later in this report, on “Legislation in the 110th Congress”
for more discussion of pending proposals.
In its FY2009 budget request, the Bush Administration proposes no funding
specifically for programs under the Adam Walsh Act but would instead consolidate
funding for programs under DOJ’s State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance,
Weed and Seed, and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) accounts into
three flexible, competitive grant programs (violent crime reduction partnership
initiative program, Byrne public safety and protection program, and the COPS
program). The Administration also proposes to consolidate existing juvenile justice
and exploited children programs into a single, flexible, competitively awarded grant
program called the Child Safety Juvenile Justice Program. See section on “FY2009
Budget Request,” later in this report.
According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, most sexual assaults,
whether directed at a child or an adult, are committed by someone known to the
victim or the victim’s family. Rather than a stranger, often relatives, friends, baby-
sitters, or persons in positions of authority over the child are more likely to commit
a sexual assault. Although the vast majority of sex offenders are males, females also
commit sexual crimes. In response to community outrage over several particularly
heinous sex offense crimes, Congress, since the mid-1990s, has passed a number of
laws concerning sex offenders, requiring registration with law enforcement agencies
and community notification.
Enacted originally in 1994, these laws were designed to protect the public by
both imprisoning sex offenders for longer periods and tracking their movements upon
release from prison. While there had been some earlier state action on sex offender
registration, with the public’s increasing concern Congress passed the Violent Crime
Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Crime Act of 1994), which included
Title XVII, the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent
Offender Registration Act (Wetterling Act).1 Congress further amended the Crime
Act of 1994 with passage of Megan’s Law in May 1996 and the Pam Lychner Sexual
Offender Tracking and Identification Act in October 1996. Collectively, these three
laws required states to establish registration programs and to strengthen state
procedures for monitoring sex offenders. In addition, Congress passed a number of
other amendments to the Wetterling Act that increased the types of crimes for which
sex offenders were required to register, increased penalties for sex offenders, and
allowed states more flexibility in registering and tracking sex offenders.
The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of
Children Act (PROTECT Act, P.L. 108-21) amends the Wetterling Act by requiring
maintenance of an Internet site with publicly available information on a sex offender
and with instructions on the process for correcting information on the site that is
believed to be erroneous. The PROTECT Act also amends the Wetterling Act by (1)
renaming it the “Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent
Offender Registration Program” and (2) adding another offense, “production or
distribution of child pornography,” to the range of offenses identified under the term
1 P.L. 103-322 (H.R. 3355); 108 Stat. 2038.
“criminal offense against a victim who is a minor” as described in sexual exploitation
of children (18 U.S.C. 2251); certain activities relating to material involving the
sexual exploitation of a minors (42 U.S.C. 2252); or certain activities relating to
material constituting or containing child pornography (42 U.S.C. 2252A).
Because of high-profile crimes committed by sex offenders and complaints from
victims’ rights groups as well as some lawmakers that dangerous sex offenders were
not being monitored, Attorney General Gonzales announced plans in May 2005 for
a new national registry of sex offenders to enable the public to view, via the Internet,
all existing state databases of sex offenders in a single web search.2 On July 20,
2005, the ......................Public Registry website was launched. The site
allows the public one-stop access to the latest information on the identity and
location of known sex offenders. Registries for the District of Columbia and all
states are on the website.
On July 27, 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
(P.L. 109-248) was enacted. The stated purpose of this act is to respond to vicious
attacks of sex offenders against certain victims and to protect the public, especially
children, from sex offenders by establishing a comprehensive national system for
registering offenders. With passage of the Adam Walsh Act, Congress again
addressed elements of registration and notification laws; procedures for treating,
tracking, and apprehending sex offenders; the recidivism rate of sex offenders; child
pornography and use of the Internet for sexual purposes; sex crimes, and penalties
for sex crimes. In addition, the Walsh Act provides for grants, studies and reports on
some of these sex offender/sex crime issues.
This report summarizes major provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection
and Safety Act. It identifies legislation introduced in the 110th Congress to further
address sex offender and crime issues, and discusses the various policy issues related
to sex offender registration and community notification. Other CRS reports on sex
offenders cover legal and constitutional issues, the civil commitment of sex
offenders, and residence restrictions for released sex offenders.3
2 See [http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2005/ 052005agremarksnpr.htm].
3 For an analysis of legal and constitutional issues related to sex offenders, see CRS Report
RL33967, Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Legal Analysis, by Charles
Doyle. For information on the issue of civil commitment of sex offenders, see CRS Report
RL34068, Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Persons, by ...han James. For a
discussion and analysis of residence restrictions for released sex offenders, see CRS Report,
CRS Report RL34353, Residence Restrictions for Released Sex Offenders, by Garrine P.
Overview of the Adam Walsh Child Protection
and Safety Act of 2006
The Adam Walsh Act expands the requirements for state law enforcement and
prison officials in registering and tracking released sex offenders. Among other
provisions, the act requires a review of sex offenders before they are released from
prison to determine whether they are a threat to the public; requires sex offenders to
register more frequently; provides for closer supervision of sex offenders, including
through electronic monitoring; allows collection of DNA from persons who are
charged with or convicted of sex offenses; establishes a national database of sex
offenders; allows public access to information on sex offenders released from
prisons; provides for a stronger sex offender community notification program; and
imposes longer penalties for crimes against children, including mandatory minimum
penalties for certain crimes. To apprehend sex offenders, the Adam Walsh Act
continues federal financial support for technical assistance, and hiring and training
of both law enforcement personnel and support staff, including probation and parole
The act provides a three-tier classification system for sex offenders that affects
the duration of registration, how often they must verify their address, and whether
they are to be listed on the Internet. Provisions of the Walsh Act require imposition
of penalties on a sex offender who fails to comply with registration requirements.
The Walsh Act provides for federal assistance in apprehending sex offenders who
violate registration requirements. It provides for training of law enforcement
personnel who work with sex offenders and increases authorized funding for local
law enforcement to track sex offenders. The act requires civil commitment of
sexually dangerous persons and provides grants to jurisdictions for that purpose.
Registration and Notification and Related Provisions
The following sections present major provisions of current law, as amended by4
the Adam Walsh Act, in more detail.
Registration Requirements. The Adam Walsh Act changes registration
requirements for a convicted sex offender. Formerly, a convicted sex offender had
to register an address change with the state law enforcement agencies of both the old
state and the new state within 10 days. The Walsh Act continues the requirement that
a sex offender register in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, is employed,
or attends school. The new law, however, requires initial registration of a convicted
sex offender prior to completion of a sentence of imprisonment or not later .han three
business days after sentencing if no term of imprisonment is imposed. It requires an
offender, including a child pornographer, to appear in person in at least one
jurisdiction and report a change of name, residence, employment or student status not
later .han three business days after a change has occurred; and requires that the
4 For more discussion of the criminal justice aspects of this legislation, see CRS Report
RL33967, Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Legal Analysis, by Charles
jurisdiction immediately provide the new information to other jurisdictions where the
offender is required to register. Under provisions of the Walsh Act, for the first time
a juvenile can be required to register as a sex offender. The act provides that a
juvenile who is at least 14 years old must register as a sex offender if the juvenile
commits an offense that is comparable to or more severe .han the federal offense of
aggravated sexual abuse.
Tier Classification System. Prior to passage of the Adam Walsh Act, each
state had its own classification system for determining the level of danger a sex
offender posed to the public. The Walsh Act, however, establishes a three-tier
system for states that classifies sex offenders based on the seriousness of their sex
crime. The Tier level determines how long a convicted sex offender must register
and how often. A convicted sex offender must register for 15 years if the offender
is a Tier I sex offender; 25 years for a Tier II sex offender; and for the life of the
offender, if the offender is a Tier III sex offender. A convicted sex offender whose
classification is Tier I must appear in person once a year; a Tier II sex offender,
every six months; and a Tier III sex offender, every three months.
Following are definitions of Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III convicted sex offenders:
!Tier I offender is a sex offender other than a Tier II or Tier III.
!Tier II sex offender has been convicted of a sex offense that is
punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or is comparable
to or more severe .han sex trafficking; coercion and enticement;
transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity;
abusive sexual contact, as well as any offense involving a minor in
a sexual performance, soliciting a minor for prostitution, or
producing or distributing child pornography.
!Tier III sex offender has been convicted of a sex offense that is
punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or is
comparable to or more severe .han the federal offenses of sexual
abuse or aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact against a
minor less than 13 years old, kidnapping of a minor, or any offense
that occurs after a person has been designated a Tier II sex offender.
Information Required from Offenders. The law requires sex offenders
who are required to register to provide the following information:
!sex offender’s name (or any alias used);
!social security number;
!address where sex offender resides or will reside;
!address where sex offender is employed or will be employed;
!address where sex offender is a student or will become a student;
!license plate number and a description of any vehicle owned or
operated by the sex offender; and
!any other information required by the Attorney General.
Information to be Included in Registries. Jurisdictions must ensure that
the following information is included in the sex offender registry:
!a physical description of the sex offender;
!text of the provision of law that defines the criminal offense for
which the sex offender is registered;
!criminal history of the sex offender;
!a sex offender’s fingerprints, palm prints, and current photograph;
!a DNA sample;
!a copy of a valid driver’s license or identification card upon release
of a sex offender from prison; and
!any other information the Attorney General requires.
Law Enforcement Responsibilities. The law establishes the following
requirements for law enforcement officials:
!requires an appropriate official to inform the sex offender of
registration requirements either shortly before release of the sex
offender from custody, or, if the sex offender is not in custody,
immediately after the sentencing of the sex offender;
!requires an appropriate official to have the sex offender read and
sign a form acknowledging that the duty to register has been
explained and is understood;
!requires an appropriate official to ensure that the sex offender is
!requires the Attorney General to establish and maintain a system for
informing relevant jurisdictions of sex offenders entering the United
Community Notification Program. The Megan Nicole Kanka and
Alexandra Nicole Zapp Community Notification Program (as created by the Adam
Walsh Act) requires an appropriate official in the jurisdiction where the sex offender
registers to provide information in the registry to
!the Attorney General, who must include the information in the
National Sex Offender Registry or other appropriate databases;
!appropriate law enforcement agencies (including some probation
agencies) and each school and public housing agency where the sex
offender resides, is employed or attends school;
!each jurisdiction where the sex offender resides, is employed or
!any agency responsible for conducting employment-related
!social service entities that are responsible for protecting minors in
the welfare system;
!volunteer organizations where contact with minors or other
vulnerable individuals is possible; and
!any organization, company, or individual who asked to be notified
pursuant to procedures established by the jurisdiction.
National Sex Offender Registry. As amended by the Adam Walsh Act,
!requires the Attorney General to maintain a national database, to be
known as the ......................Registry, at the FBI for each
sex offender and any other person required to register in a
jurisdiction’s sex offender registry; and
!requires the Attorney General to ensure that updated information
about a sex offender is forwarded electronically to all relevant
.............Public Website. The Adam Walsh Act requires the Attorney
General to establish and maintain the Dru Sjodin ......................Public
Website, which allows the public to obtain relevant information on a sex offender by
a single query for any given zip code or geographical radius that the user indicates.
Penalty for Failure to Register. As newly established by the Adam Walsh
Act, the law provides that each jurisdiction, other than a federally recognized Indian
tribe, must provide a criminal penalty that includes a maximum term of
imprisonment that is more than one year.
Federal Penalties, Including Mandatory Minimums, for Selected
Crimes. The Walsh Act increases penalties and establishes new and higher
mandatory minimum penalties for persons committing certain sex crimes,
particularly those that involve children, pornography and use of the Internet. These
crimes include the following:
!sexual abuse of wards;
!abuse and neglect of Indian children;
!sex-trafficking of children;
!production of sexually explicit depictions of children;
!coercion and enticement of children by sex offenders;
!repeated sex offenses against children;
!using misleading domain names to direct children to harmful
material on the Internet;
!activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of
children, or constituting or containing child pornography; and
!Internet sales of date rape drugs (these include gamma
hydroxybutyric acid, ketamine or flunitrazepan).
The penalty for sexual abuse is increased from a maximum of 20 years to a
sentence of life. New mandatory minimum penalties are imposed, where none
existed before passage of the Walsh Act, for crimes such as sex trafficking by using
force, fraud or coercion, or by using a minor under 14 years of age; and for
aggravated sexual abuse where the victim is under 12 years of age, or where the
victim is between 13 and 15 years of age (and is at least four years younger .han the
defendant) and the crime is accomplished by force, threat or while the victim is
unable to appraise conduct because of being unconscious. For coercing or
transporting a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, the mandatory minimum
sentence is 10 years and the maximum is 30 years to life; the previous minimum
sentence was five years. For producing a sexually explicit depiction of a minor in
another country with the intention of importing it into the United States the
punishment is a minimum prison term of 15 years and a maximum one of 30 years
for a first offense; prior to the Walsh Act, for this offense, there was no mandatory
minimum penalty and the maximum term of imprisonment was 10 years. The
maximum penalty is 10 years for using a misleading domain name on the Internet
with the intent of deceiving a minor into viewing harmful material; the previous
maximum sentence was four years.
Child Pornography and Use of the Internet. The Walsh Act creates new
federal crimes and requirements concerning child pornography and use of the Internet
to exploit or commit a felony sex offense against a child, providing penalties for the
offender and additional federal personnel to monitor the Internet. It requires anyone
who produces visual depictions of “actual sexually explicit conduct” or “simulated
sexual conduct” to maintain a record of personal information on each performer and
to post where the record is located on each page of a website. The act also provides
mandatory-minimum penalties for persons convicted of violating these record-
Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders. The Walsh Act provides for the
civil commitment of a sexually dangerous offender any time after commencement of
probation or supervised release and prior to the completion of a sentence. The
Attorney General is authorized to make grants to jurisdictions for establishing,
enhancing, or operating effective civil commitment programs for sexually dangerous
Treatment and Management of Adult Sex Offenders in the Bureau
of Prisons. Included in the Adam Walsh Act are provisions for the treatment and
management of adult sex offenders in the Bureau of Prisons. The act requires the
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to establish non-residential sex offender management
programs for sex offenders and to provide aftercare during pre-release custody. BOP
also must establish residential sex offender treatment programs as well as provide
treatment to sex offenders who want it and are deemed suitable for it by the BOP.
The act authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to eligible entities for a
program, project, or other activity to help in treating juvenile sex offenders.
Asset Forfeiture. The Walsh Act authorizes civil and criminal asset
forfeiture of property for certain crimes. Offenses for which the property of a person
is subject to civil and criminal asset forfeiture include
!offenses involving obscene material;
!sexual exploitation and abuse of children; and
!using misleading domain names including obscene or pornographic
!any property constituting or traceable to gross profits from these
offenses, and any property constituting or traceable to the means for
committing or promoting these offenses.
Military. The Walsh Act continues registration requirements for sex offenders
convicted in a federal or military court.
Public Housing. Public housing is denied to anyone who is required to
register for life as a sex offender.5
Public Access to Information. The Adam Walsh Act provides a
mechanism for the public to obtain information on sex offenders by using the Internet
(the Dru Sjodin ......................Public Website) or by contacting an
appropriate law enforcement official in the jurisdiction where the sex offender is
registered (Megan Nicole Kanka and Alexandra Nicole Zapp Community
Institutions of Higher Education. Under provisions of the Campus.....
Crimes Prevention Act, enacted as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence
Protection Act of 2000,6 institutions of higher education must inform the campus.
community of where to obtain information on registered sex offenders, such as a
local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction for the campus.or a computer network
Federal Grants and Assistance
The Walsh Act authorizes both new programs and offices and expands some
existing grant programs that are intended to train law enforcement personnel, protect
children, provide mentors for youth, improve relations between police and youths,
assist in the management of sex offenders, including juveniles, and to combat crime.
A description of some of these programs and offices follows. See the section, later
in this report, on “Funding of Walsh Act Programs,” for information on the status of
appropriations for these activities.
Training and Technology Efforts. To respond effectively to sex offenders
who use the Internet and technology for soliciting or exploiting children, the Adam
Walsh Act requires the Attorney General to expand training of federal, state and local
law enforcement personnel. To identify problems associated with using technology
in the exploitation of children, the Attorney General must facilitate meetings that
involve corporations who sell computer hardware and software or provide services
to the public that are related to using the Internet. Further, the Attorney General must
host national conferences to train law enforcement officers, probation and parole
officers, and prosecutors on pro-active approaches to monitor sex offender activity
on the Internet; and must develop and distribute information to them regarding
5 Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and Independent
Agencies Appropriations Act of 1999 (P.L. 105-276; 112 Stat. 2641); 42 U.S.C. 13662.
6 Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386; 114 Stat.
multidisciplinary approaches to holding sex offenders accountable to the conditions
of their probation, parole, and registration. The Attorney General also must partner
with other agencies to improve coordination of joint investigations among agencies
in combating sex offenders’ online solicitation of children. To carry out this training,
the Walsh Act authorized to be appropriated $1 million for FY2007.
In addition to providing training to law enforcement personnel, the Attorney
General must deploy technology, that is modeled after the Canadian Child
Exploitation Tracking System, to all Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces
and their partner agencies as well as conduct training in the use of technology. For
these technology provisions, the act authorized to be appropriated $2 million for
Assistance with Violations of Registration Requirements. The Walsh
Act requires the Attorney General to use resources of federal law enforcement,
including the United States Marshals Service, to assist jurisdictions in locating and
apprehending sex offenders who failed to comply with registration requirements. For
fiscal years 2007 through 2009, Congress has authorized to be appropriated such
sums as may be necessary for this purpose.
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending,
Registering and Tracking (SMART Office). The Adam Walsh Act establishes
a new office in the Justice Department, with the following functions and
!administer standards for the sex offender registration and
notification program of this act;
!administer grant programs on sex offender registration and
notification and other grant programs under this act;
!cooperate with and provide technical assistance to states, units of
local governments, tribal governments, and public and private
entities involved in activities related to sex offender registration or
notification or to other measures that protect children or others from
sexual abuse or exploitation; and
!perform other functions that the Attorney General may delegate.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Mentoring Program. Big
Brothers Big Sisters of America mentors at-risk youth. The Walsh Act authorizes the
administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to make
grants to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to expand its capacity to meet its
objective. The organization is required to submit a biannual report in each of fiscal
years 2007 through 2013 that (1) details the progress it has made in carrying out its
mentoring programs; (2) details how grant funds have been used; (3) assesses the
effectiveness of the mentoring programs; and (4) makes recommendations for future
grants and the amount of funding that would be needed for those grants. For this
program, Congress has authorized $9 million for FY2007; $10 million for FY2008;
$11.5 million for FY2009; $13 million for FY2010; and $15 million for FY2011.
National Police Athletic League (PAL). PAL is a youth crime prevention
program. Subtitle B — National Police Athletic League Youth Enrichment Act of
the Walsh Act reauthorizes PAL through FY2010. The act changes the name of the
group to the National Police Athletic/Activities League and adds another goal of the
organization, which is to enhance the character and leadership skills of young people.
In addition, it increases the number of chapters and youths that can join PAL.
Congress has authorized grant funding of $16 million for each of FY2006 through
.............Management Assistance Program (SOMA-Grant).7 The
Walsh Act requires the Attorney General to establish and implement a SOMA grant
program. Under SOMA-grant, the Attorney General can award a grant to a
jurisdiction to offset the costs of the sex offender registration and community
notification. A chief executive of a jurisdiction must submit annually an application
to the Attorney General. If the Attorney General determines that a jurisdiction has
substantially implemented sex offender registration and notification provisions of the
Adam Walsh Act, then the jurisdiction is eligible for a bonus payment of 10% of the
total funds received under the SOMA grant program for the preceding fiscal year,
provided the implementation occurred within one year after enactment of the Walsh
Act; and 5% of funds, if implementation occurred within two years of that date. For
the SOMA grant, Congress has authorized such sums as may be necessary for
FY2007 through FY2009.
Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde Grants. With the objective of better
monitoring sex offenders, the Attorney General, for a period of three years, is
authorized to award grants to states, local governments, and Indian tribal
governments for providing sex offenders with electronic monitoring devices and
employing law enforcement officials to operate the program. To allow an assessment
of the effectiveness of approaches used to monitor sex offenders, the act requires the
Attorney General in making these grants to ensure that a variety of approaches to
monitoring offenders are funded. The electronic monitoring units must provide a
single-unit tracking device for each offender that contains a central processing unit
with global positioning system and cellular technology in a single unit and that
provides two- and three-way voice communication. It also must permit active, real-
time, and continuous monitoring of offenders 24 hours a day. The Attorney General
must submit a report to Congress that addresses the effectiveness and value of this
program; compares the cost effectiveness of electronic monitoring to reduce sex
offenses with other alternatives; and makes recommendations on whether to continue
the grant program and at what funding level. The act has authorized appropriations
of $5 million for each of the fiscal years 2007 through 2009.
.............Apprehension Grants. The Walsh Act authorizes the
Attorney General to make sex offender apprehension grants to states, units of local
government, Indian tribal governments, other public and private entities, and multi-
jurisdictional or regional consortia to assist them in enforcing sex offender
7 Another program, called the Training Program to Assist Probation and Parole Officers,
popularly known as the .............Management Assistance program, was originally
established in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C.
13941) and was recently reauthorized in Section 108 of the Violence Against Women and
Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162).
registration requirements. For fiscal years 2007 through 2009, Congress has
authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary.
Juvenile .............Treatment Grants. The Walsh Act authorizes the
Attorney General to make grants to units of local government, Indian tribal
governments, correctional facilities, other public and private entities, and multi-
jurisdictional or regional consortia to assist in the treatment of juvenile sex offenders.
For grant purposes, a juvenile sex offender is defined as a sex offender who has not
attained the age of 18 years at the time a sex offense was committed. The act has
authorized to be appropriated $10 million for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2009
for these treatment grants.
Grants to Combat Sexual Abuse of Children. To combat sexual abuse
of children, the Bureau of Justice Assistance is authorized to make grants, based on
need, to law enforcement agencies to (1) hire additional personnel or train existing
staff to combat sexual abuse of children through community education and outreach,
investigation of complaints, enforcement of laws on sex offender registries, and
management of released sex offenders; (2) investigate use of the Internet to facilitate
the sexual abuse of children; and (3) purchase computer hardware and software to
investigate sexual abuse of children over the Internet, access local, state, and federal
databases for apprehending sex offenders, and facilitate the creation and enforcement
of sex offender registries. For these grants, Congress has authorized to be
appropriated such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2007 through 2009.
Crime Prevention Campaign Grant. The Attorney General is authorized
to provide a grant to a national private, nonprofit organization with expertise in
promoting crime prevention through public outreach and media campaigns. These
campaigns are to be coordinated with law enforcement agencies and other local
government officials as well as with representatives of community public interest
organizations such as schools and youth-serving organizations, faith based, and
victim’s organizations and employers. Grantees must use funds to
!create and promote national public communications campaigns;
! develop and distribute publications and other educational materials
that promote crime prevention;
!design and maintain websites and related web-based materials and
!design and deliver training for law enforcement personnel,
community leaders, and other partners in public safety and
hometown security initiatives;
!design and deliver technical assistance to states, local jurisdictions,
and crime prevention practitioners and associations;
!coordinate a coalition of federal, national, and state-wide
organizations and communities in support of crime prevention;
!design, deliver, and assess demonstration programs;
!operate McGruff-related programs;
!operate the Teens, Crime, and Community Program; and
!evaluate crime prevention programs and trends.
For this grant program, Congress has authorized to be appropriated $7 million for
FY2007; $8 million for FY2008; $9 million for FY2009; and $10 million for
Grants for Fingerprinting Programs for Children. The Walsh Act
authorizes the Attorney General to establish and implement a program under which
grants for fingerprinting children can be made to states, units of local government,
and Indian tribal governments. Grant funds are to be used to establish a voluntary
fingerprinting program for children, which may include taking palm prints of
children; hiring additional law enforcement personnel or training existing law
enforcement personnel to fingerprint children; informing the community involved
about the fingerprinting program; and providing computer hardware, computer
software or other materials to carry out such a fingerprinting program. For a person
who uses the fingerprinting program for unauthorized purposes, the Walsh Act
provides a criminal penalty of imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine or
both. Congress has authorized to be appropriated $20 million for a five-year period
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). RAINN is a
501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides help to victims of sexual assault and
educates the public about sexual assault prevention, prosecution, and recovery. The
Adam Walsh Act authorizes the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to make an annual grant to RAINN; issue
regulations to carry out RAINN grants; effectively coordinate all federally funded
programs relating to victims of sexual assault; and provide adequate staff and agency
resources to properly carry out OJJDP’s responsibilities.
RAINN grants may be used to operate the ............ual Assault Hotline,
which is a 24-hour toll-free telephone line that individuals may use to receive help
and information from trained volunteers. Other purposes for which grant funds may
be used include education of the media, the general public and populations at risk of
sexual assault about the incidence of sexual violence and sexual violence prevention,
prosecution, and recovery; dissemination nationally of information on innovative and
model programs, services, laws, legislation, and policies that benefit victims of
sexual assault; and provision of technical assistance to law enforcement agencies,
state and local governments, the criminal justice system, public and private nonprofit
agencies, and individuals investigating and prosecuting cases of sexual assault.
Congress has authorized to be appropriated $3 million for each of fiscal years 2007
through 2010 for the Administrator of OJJDP to provide grants to RAINN.
Fugitive Safe Surrender. Fugitive Safe Surrender was a pilot program of
the United States Marshals Service, in partnership with public, private and faith-
based organizations, that allowed fugitives to turn themselves in safely and have
nonviolent cases adjudicated immediately at a church that had been temporarily
transformed into a courthouse. Because the pilot program in Cleveland, Ohio was
successful, Congress expanded the program to other cities. The Walsh Act provides
for the U.S. Marshals to establish, direct, and coordinate the Fugitive Safe Surrender
Program to safely, securely, and peacefully apprehend federal, state and local
fugitives in coordination with law enforcement and community leaders in designated
cities throughout the United States. This provision, however, does not limit any
existing authority under any other provision of federal or state law for law
enforcement agencies to locate or apprehend fugitives through task forces or any
other means. Congress has authorized to be appropriated to the U.S. Marshals
..rvice for this program $3 million for FY2007; $5 million for FY2008; and $8
million for FY2008.
..lected Studies and Reports
The Walsh Act also calls for a number of studies and reports that assess the cost
and effectiveness of efforts to control, prosecute, manage, treat and monitor sex
offenders and requires DOJ to report the findings of these studies to Congress. In
addition, the act addresses the performance of federal, state, and local criminal
investigators of homicides.
As noted below in the section on “Funding of Walsh Act Programs,” $1 million
was allocated in FY2007 (from the Byrne Discretionary Grant program) for these
studies (which are discussed below). According to DOJ, in June 2007, the .........
Institute of Justice (NIJ) announced the competitive grant solicitation for studies on
the effectiveness of monitoring and treating sex offenders, risk-based sex offender
classification systems, and the effectiveness of restricting the activities of sex
offenders to reduce repeat offenses. Applications are currently under review, and
DOJ expects to announce awards for these projects later this spring.
Comprehensive Examination of .............Issues. The Walsh Act
requires NIJ to conduct a comprehensive study of the control, prosecution, treatment,
and monitoring of sex offenders. The study is to focus on the effectiveness of (1)
the .............Registration and Notification Act (Title I of the Adam Walsh Act)
in improving the compliance of sex offenders with registration and notification
requirements; (2) sex offender registration and notification requirements in increasing
public safety; (3) public dissemination of sex offender information on the Internet in
increasing public safety; and (4) treatment programs in reducing recidivism among
sex offenders. In addition to addressing the effectiveness of these four approaches
to handling sex offenders and protecting public safety, the study is to consider the
costs associated with each approach. The study must also include recommendations
on how to reduce the number of sex crimes against children and adults and increase
the effectiveness of registration requirements.
NIJ must submit annual interim reports, and not later than five years after
enactment of this act, report the results of the study together with findings to
Congress, through the Internet to the public, to every state governor, the mayor of the
District of Columbia, to heads of territories, and to the heads of Indian tribes. There
are authorized to be appropriated $3 million for this study.
Annual Report on Enforcement of Registration Requirements. By
July 1 of each year, the Attorney General is required to submit a report to Congress
that describes: how the U.S. Marshals ..rvice has assisted jurisdictions in locating
and apprehending sex offenders who have not complied with sex offender
registration requirements; the use of national crime information databases to punish
offenders for failure to register; a detailed account of each jurisdiction’s compliance
with the .............Registration and Notification Act; DOJ’s efforts to ensure
compliance with this act; and any funding reductions because a jurisdiction failed to
comply with registration requirements and the basis for deciding whether to reduce
funding; and, finally, any denials or granting of extensions to comply with the ....
.........Registration and Notification Act and the reasons why extensions were
denied or granted. According to DOJ, this annual report is currently in review.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Studies on Feasibility of
Using Drivers License as a Registration Requirement for Sex Offenders.
To improve sex offenders’ compliance with registration requirements concerning
change of address upon relocation and other related updates of personal information,
Congress required GAO, not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of
this act, to complete a study on the feasibility of using a driver’s license in the sex
offender registration process. GAO was to survey a majority of the states to assess
the relative systems capabilities to comply with a federal law requiring all state
driver’s license systems to automatically access state and national databases of
registered sex offenders similar to the Nevada law.8
In January 2008, GAO published a report, Convicted Sex Offenders, Factors
That Could Affect the .uccessful Implementation of Driver’s License-Related
Processes to Encourage Registration and Enhance Monitoring. The report identified
some key factors that would influence implementation of a driver’s license screening
process: costs, information technology, and design of the screening process. In brief,
GAO found that most of the motor vehicle agencies and sex offender registries in 26
states it surveyed reported that their current information technology systems would
require moderate to major modifications, with the cost of software modifications a
key factor. The states also indicated that operational or functional requirements must
be clearly defined before any reliable cost estimates for this kind of screening process
can be made. In addition, motor vehicle agency officials reported that because of
competing demands for programming resources, it would be several years before they
could handle additional projects. How well the driver’s license screening program
is designed would also determine its success, simply because there are many different
processes, procedures, databases, and operational environments among motor vehicle9
and law enforcement agencies nationally.
.............Risk Classification Study. The Attorney General is
required to conduct a study of risk-based sex offender classification systems that
includes an analysis of various risk-based sex offender classification systems,
methods and tools for assessing the risks posed by sex offenders; and a comparison
of the efficiency and effectiveness of risk-based sex offender classification to
offense-based sex offender classification systems in reducing threats to public safety
8 Chapter 507 of .tatutes of Nevada 2005. The Nevada law prohibits sex offenders and
offenders convicted of a crime against a child from renewing their drivers’ licenses,
commercial drivers’ licenses or identification cards if they have not complied with offender
9 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Committees, January
2008, GAO-08-116, Convicted Sex Offenders, Factors That Could Affect the .uccessful
Implementation of Driver’s License-Related Processes to Encourage Registration and
Enhance Monitoring, pp. 4-6.
and assisting law enforcement agencies and the public in identifying the most
dangerous sex offenders. The study should include both an analysis of the resources
necessary to implement risk-based sex offender classification systems for sex
offender registries as well as the legal implications of doing so. Finally, the study
must include an analysis of any other information the Attorney General determines
should be used to evaluate risk-based sex offender classification systems. Within 18
months after enactment of the Walsh Act, the Attorney General must report the
results of the study to Congress. If the Attorney General creates a task force to
conduct the study and prepare the report, the Attorney General must appoint persons
to the task force who represent national, state, and local interests and who have
education, training or experience in sex offender management, community education,
risk assessment of sex offenders and sex offender victim issues.
.tudy of the Effectiveness of Restricting the Activities of ....
........s to Reduce Recidivism. The Attorney General is required to conduct
a study to evaluate the effectiveness of monitoring and restricting the activities of sex
offenders to reduce recidivism through conditions imposed as part of supervised
release or probation conditions. The study must evaluate the effectiveness of
monitoring and restricting activities of sex offenders, including (1) restrictions on
where the sex offender can reside, work, and attend school; (2) limitations on sex
offenders’ access to Internet or to specific Internet sites; and (3) denying sex
offenders access to pornography and other obscene materials. It also must evaluate
the ability of law enforcement agencies and courts to enforce these restrictions; and
the efficacy of any other restrictions that may reduce recidivism. The Attorney
General is required to report the results of this study to the House and Senate
Judiciary Committees no later than six months after enactment of the Walsh Act.
Justice for Crime Victims Family Act. Within six months of enactment
of the Walsh Act, the Attorney General must submit a report to House and Senate
Judiciary Committees that outlines measures needed to improve the performance of
federal, state, and local criminal investigators of homicide. The report must include
an examination of (1) the benefits for criminal investigators of increasing training
and resources such as investigative techniques, best practices, and forensic services;
(2) uniformity among state and local jurisdictions in measuring homicide rates and
clearance of homicide cases; (3) coordination among federal, state, and local law
enforcement, coroners and medical examiners in sharing information; and (4) sources
of funding for state and local criminal investigators of homicide that are in existence
on the date of enactment of this act.
The Attorney General, within six months of enactment of this act, also must
submit a report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that examines
measures to expand national criminal records databases with accurate information on
missing persons and unidentified human remains; improvement of post mortem
examinations, autopsies and reporting procedures of unidentified persons or remains;
collection of DNA information; and use of the Internet to post information on
missing persons and unidentified human remains. DOJ has yet to assign these
Additional Provisions Enacted in the 109th Congress
In addition to the Adam Walsh Act, the 109th Congress also passed the Violence
Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (VAWA
2005; P.L. 109-162).11 Section 108 of the act amends Section 40152 of the Violent
Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 13941), which provides
training in the areas of case management, supervision, and relapse prevention to
assist probation and other personnel who work with released sex offenders. For this
section of VAWA 2005, Congress has authorized $3 million to be appropriated for
each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011. VAWA 2005 adds provisions directing the
Attorney General to contract with any interested Indian tribe, tribal organization, or
tribal nonprofit organization to develop and maintain a national tribal sex offender
registry and a tribal protection order registry. Congress has authorized $1 million to
be appropriated for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011 to carry out this section.
Funds would remain available until expended.
VAWA 2005 also contains new sex offender provisions that authorize the
Attorney General, through the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women,
to award grants to encourage cross-training and collaboration among courts, domestic
violence and sexual assault service providers, youth organizations and service
providers, violence prevention programs and law enforcement agencies. To be
eligible for a grant under this section (Section 41202, Access to Justice for Youth),
an applicant must establish a collaborative team that includes a victim service
provider with experience in working on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual
assault, or stalking, and the effect of these types of abuse on young people as well as
a court. Among other entities that may be included on the team are batterer
intervention programs and sex offender treatment programs staffed by people with
specialized knowledge and experience working with youth offenders. Congress has
authorized $5 million to be appropriated in each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011
for this section of VAWA 2005.
Legislation in the 110th Congress
The House and Senate are resolving their differences on provisions in the
FY2008 war supplemental bill (H.R. 2642) by exchanging amendments between the
two houses. On May 22, 2008, the ..nate adopted two amendments, one of which
would provide funding for domestic programs, including $50 million for the U.S.
Marshals ..rvice to apprehend sex offenders who had not complied with registration
10 Based on telephone conversation with DOJ spokesman, May 9, 2008.
11 For a complete discussion of VAWA 2005, see CRS Report RL330871, Violence Against
Women Act: History and Federal Funding, by Garrine P. Laney.
requirements as provided in the Adam Walsh Act. The ..nate has sent both
amendments to the House for their consideration.
On May 20, 2008, the ..nate amended and passed S. 431, Keeping the Internet
Devoid of ...ual Predators Act of 2007, by adding another registration requirement
for sex offenders. S. 431, as amended, would also address changes in technology
and respond to rulings in two court cases that affect child pornography. For further
details, see sections below on registration requirements and monitoring use of the
Internet for sex offenders. On this same date, the ..nate also passed H.R. 2517,
Protecting Our Children First Act of 2007. Among other provisions, H.R. 2517
would provide for locating sex offenders who have not registered as required and
would offer grants to be used to protect children from sex offenders and sexual
abuse. See section below on “Grants.”
Additional legislation related to sex offenders has been introduced in the 110th
Congress. Many of the bills contain provisions on multiple aspects of the issues of
sex offenders and sexual abuse of children, which in this report are arranged and
discussed topically. Generally, the bills include major provisions that would address
registration of sex offenders (S.Amdt. 752, H.R. 291, H.R. 3095, S. 1819, H.R. 3144,
H.R. 5475, H.R. 5722, S. 431 and S. 2632); place some restrictions on released sex
offenders (H.Res. 572, H.R. 2170 and H.R. 3149); monitor use of the Internet for
sexual exploitative purposes (S. 431, H.R. 3791, H.R. 876, S. 519 and H.R. 837);
concern sex offender DNA issues (H.R. 252 and H.R. 3833); address the locating and
monitoring the location of sex offenders (H.R. 719, H.R. 1656, H.R. 1684, H.R. 4094
and H.R. 5722); relate to crimes against the elderly and minors (H.R. 2105 and H.R.
S. 1829, H.R. 291, H.R. 876, S. 519, and H.R. 252); and reauthorize some Walsh Act
activities and programs (H.R. 5760 and H.R. 5722).
All of these bills were referred to their respective committees. Only H.R. 719,
H.R. 1684, H.R. 2517, H.R. 3095, H.R. 3791, S.Amdt. 752, S. 431, and S. 1829 have
received further legislative activity, which is discussed below. Following is an
analysis of these measures.
Provisions Related to Registration Requirements,
Apprehension and Penalties for Sex Offenders
..Amdt. 752 (Ensign) would amend H.R. 1591 (U.S. Troops Readiness,
Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007)
to increase funding under the Walsh Act for the U.S. Marshals ..rvice to apprehend
a convicted sex offender who failed to register as legally required. The ..nate agreed
to ..Amdt. 752 on March 29, 2007. Congress passed H.R. 1591 and on May 1, 2007,
the President vetoed the measure. On May 2, 2007, efforts to override the President’s
veto failed; the House then referred the bill and veto message to the Committee on
On May 20, 2008, the ..nate passed an amended S. 431, Keeping the Internet
Devoid of ...ual Predators Act of 2007, which, among other provisions, would
require a convicted sex offender who uses the Internet to provide and keep current
an electronic mail address, instant message address, or other designation used for self
identification or routing in an Internet communication that is not included in the sex
offender’s registration information. Penalties, including a fine and/or imprisonment
for up to 10 years, would be imposed on a sex offender who knowingly fails to
provide this information.
The identical bills H.R. 3095 (Kildee) and S. 1819 (Dorgan) would extend by
one year (to 2008) the deadline by which an Indian tribe must decide whether to
enforce the .............Registration and Notification (SORNA) provisions of the
Adam Walsh Act or to delegate this enforcement authority to another jurisdiction(s).
On July 23, 2007, the House passed, by voice vote, H.R. 3095, and on August 3,
2007, the measure was referred to the ..nate. S. 1819 was referred to the ..nate
Judiciary Committee on July 19, 2007.
H.R. 291, Safe NOW Act of 2007 (Gillmor) would establish a .............
.........Risk Classification Task Force to create guidelines for classifying a sex
offender, on the basis of the offender’s threat of danger to the public, and would
allow law enforcement agencies and the public to use this classification system to
identify the most dangerous sex offenders listed in sex offender registries. The task
force would consist of 20 members, including the chair, and representatives from a
variety of organizations such as advocacy groups, law enforcement, federal agencies,
the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, psychologists, and three
representatives from academia with specialties in risk assessment of sex offenders.
Duties of the task force would include creation of preliminary guidelines for
establishing a risk-based sex offender classification system, administration of a
demonstration program, and creation of final guidelines. The task force would
submit an initial report to the Attorney General and relevant congressional
committees not later than one year after the date of its first meeting. Another final
report would be required not later than six months after the demonstration program
(described below under the heading, “Grants”) expires. The final report would
contain guidelines for establishing a risk-based sex offender classification system and
a summary of information gathered through the demonstration program.
H.R. 3144, .............Internet Prohibition Act of 2007 (McMorris Rodgers)
would require that a sex offender who must register as such be fined and imprisoned
for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years, if the offender knowingly
accesses a website on the Internet to communicate with an unsuspecting child.
H.R. 5475, .............Mandatory.Registration Act of 2008 (Moore) would
amend the sex offender registration provisions of the Walsh Act by adding a
requirement for sex offenders who travel between states, regardless of when they
travel, to register with the appropriate state and local authorities. It would also make
failure to register or update a sex offender registration a continuing offense for as
long as such a failure exists.
Among other provisions, H.R. 5722 (Christopher H. Smith) would expand
access to information on convicted sex offenders in the United States who travel
internationally. The bill would require sex offenders who must register as such to
inform an appropriate jurisdiction(s) 21 days before departing to or arriving from a
foreign place. Once notified, the jurisdiction must promptly inform the ..cretary of
Homeland ..curity and the Attorney General. At the same time an official notifies
an offender that he or she must register under SORNA, the official must also inform
the offender of the reporting requirements for travel abroad and require the offender
to sign a form stating that the duty to report as well as reporting procedures have been
explained and are understood.
H.R. 5722 would require the ..cretary of Homeland ..curity, in consultation
with the Attorney General and the ..cretary of State, to notify in a timely manner and
provide sufficient information to appropriate authorities in relevant foreign countries
or territories concerning the travel plans of a convicted sex offender who is required
to register under SORNA. The ..cretary of State may provide technical assistance
to foreign authorities to enable them to more effectively participate in this sex
offender reporting and notification program.
Within one year of enactment of this act and every four years thereafter, H.R.
5722 would require the President to submit a report to congressional committees on
the implementation of this act. Included in the report should be information on the
number of sex offenders who report travel to or from a foreign place, the number of
sex offenders prosecuted and convicted for failure to report such travel, and what
actions, if any, foreign countries and territories of destination took after being
notified of the travel plans of a sex offender.
The measure would create a new federal offense for a convicted sex offender to
knowingly fail to report his or her travel to or from a foreign place, with a penalty of
a fine or imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both. For this sex offender travel and
notification program, H.R. 5722 would authorize to be appropriated such sums as
may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2009 through 2013.
.. 2632, .............Registration and Notification Retroactivity Correction
Act of 2008 (Bond) would amend the Walsh Act to provide a retroactive registration
requirement for a sex offender. The bill would require a sex offender to register
under provisions of SORNA (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety
Act) whether the sex offender was convicted before, on, or after enactment of the act.
Restrictions on Released Sex Offenders
.everal bills would encourage the use of sex offender registries for background
checks on offenders and would place restrictions on the pretrial release of a sex
offender and on where an offender can work. H.Res. 572, Encouraging Employers
and Online Dating Sites to Use .............Registries for Background Checks
(King) would encourage employers and online dating sites to use sex offender
registries to conduct background checks on potential employees.
H.R. 2170 (Pearce) would make an individual ineligible to serve in the
Department of the Interior or the Department of Agriculture if the person is convicted
of a sexual offense involving a minor. Provisions of this act, however, would not
apply to an individual whose employment began before enactment of this act.
H.R. 3149, Protecting America’s Children Act of 2007 (Porter) would require
the chief officer of a state or unit of local government to certify annually that state or
local laws provide adequate protection against the pre-trial release of individuals (1)
who are charged with a state or local crime that would constitute a federal sexual
offense, including aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor or ward, and
sexual abuse resulting in death; and (2) who would pose a serious risk of fleeing,
obstructing or attempting to obstruct justice or threaten, injure, or intimidate a
potential witness, judge, magistrate, or juror. Minimally, the pre-trial release
measures must include a pre-trial detention hearing for the individual, and the
individual must be detained prior to trial for the period beginning at presentment and
ending on the last day of the pre-trial detention hearing involved or the last day of any
continuance period, whichever is later. If a state or local government fails to meet
these requirements, then Byrne grant funds would be denied to that state or unit of
local government for any fiscal year in which the pre-trial release requirements are
Monitoring Use of the Internet by Sex Offenders
To protect children from exploitation or abuse by a sex offender, several bills
would modernize and expand reporting requirements, encourage cooperation among
law enforcement concerning child pornography, and monitor a sex offender’s use of
Once a convicted sex offender provides an electronic mail address, instant
message address, or other designation used for self identification or routing in an
Internet communication for inclusion in the NSOR, among other provisions, S. 431,
as amended, would require the Attorney General to maintain a system that would
allow commercial social networking websites to compare users of their databases to
the Internet identifiers of persons in the NSOR. To gain access to databases, a
commercial social networking website must provide the Attorney General with its
name, its specific legal nature and corporate status; contact information for the
website; an explanation of why the website seeks to use the system; and any other
information required by the Attorney General. After providing this information and
paying any fee established by the Attorney General, the commercial social
networking website may use the database for identifying a registered user who is a
S. 431, as amended, would prohibit both the Attorney General and the social
networking website from releasing to the public any list of the e-mail addresses or
other designations used for self-identification provided by a sex offender.
The bill would amend 18 U.S.C. 2422 to provide that anyone who knowingly
misrepresents his or her age in using the Internet to operate a facility to engage in
criminal sexual conduct with a minor would be fined and imprisoned for up to 20
years. This penalty would be in addition to any other imposed by a jurisdiction for
such criminal conduct with a minor.
S. 431, as amended, would address changes in technology and rulings in two
cases concerning child pornography,12 by amending 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(4) and 18
U.S.C. 2252A(a)(5) to include a prohibition on knowingly accessing child
pornography images with an intent to view. This provision is intended to reach a
person who views child pornography on the Internet, but does not attempt to save the
images. The requirements that such accessing of child pornography be knowing and
intentional is designed to protect persons from prosecution who might accidentally
access child pornography. 13
Section 7 of .. 431 also would add the words “affecting interstate or foreign
commerce” or “using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce” in a
variety of places in the child pornography statutes. The primary purpose in adding
this language is to ensure that the law would encompass activities that occurred over
the Internet and telephone lines. This language appears to have been in response to
court cases that found that the existing law did not apply to all such activities.14
H.R. 3791, SAFE Act of 2007 (Lampson) and the identical bills H.R. 876,
SAFE Act of 2007 (Chabot) and S. 519, (McCain) would monitor an offender’s use
of the Internet by requiring electronic communication service providers and remote
computing service providers to report to the CyberTipline of the .........Center for
Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) facts or circumstances which indicate that
federal law relating to child pornography or to obscene visual representations of the
sexual abuse of children has been violated, with identifying information on the
individual involved. All three measures would require the NCMEC to forward this
information to any appropriate state or foreign law enforcement agency that the
Attorney General designates.
Of these three bills, only H.R. 3791 would impose a fine of $150,000 in the first
case and $300,000 for any subsequent failure of an electronic communication service
provider or a remote computing service provider that fails to report a violation of
federal law relating to child pornography or to obscene visual representations of the
sexual abuse of children. H.R. 3791 would not require an electronic communication
service provider or a remote computing service provider to monitor any user of that
provider or the content of any communication of a person, or affirmatively seek facts
12 Congress......Record, May 20, 2008, p. 4549. The two cases are United States v. Teal,
No. 1:04-CR-00042-CCB-1 (D. Md., motion to dismiss granted August 13, 2004) andth
United States v. Kuchinski, 469 F.3d 853 (9 Cir. 2006). In Teal, Marvin Teal, a former
administrative law judge, was prosecuted for viewing child pornography at a public library.
Because there was no evidence that the defendant had intentionally saved the images, the
District Court dismissed the case. In Kuchinski, the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the
sentence of an offender on the basis that while he may have viewed the images in question,
he did not know that those images were in his Internet cache.
13 Congress......Record, May 20, 2008, p. S. 4549.
14 For instance, in United States v. Schaefer, 501 F.3D 1197 (10TH Cir. 2007), the court
dismissed a conviction for receipt and possession of child pornography in interstate
commerce because the court found that proof that an image traveled over the Internet was
not sufficient to prove that the image moved between the states.
regarding violations of federal law on child pornography or obscene visual
representations of the sexual abuse of children.
H.R. 876 and S. 519 would authorize the courts to impose explicit conditions
of supervised release for convicted sex offenders to monitor their use of the Internet.
These bills would require the sex offender to pay a fee, not to exceed $50 per month,
for such monitoring. They would increase penalties for using the Internet to violate
child pornography or sexual exploitation laws, providing an additional term of
imprisonment of 10 years. The measures also would require the Attorney General
to make reports on investigations, prosecutions and convictions concerning crimes
of sexual exploitation against children publicly available on the DOJ website.
H.R. 3791, H.R. 876, and S. 519 would grant an electronic communication
service provider, a remote computing service provider, and NCMEC immunity from
civil and criminal liability for reporting violations of child pornography and sexual
abuse of children, except in cases of intentional misconduct or malicious failure to
act in accordance with law. H.R. 3791 would authorize NCMEC to provide elements
relating to any image of child pornography reported to its CyberTipline to an
electronic communication service provider or remote computing service provider to
enable them to stop further transmission of these images.
Of these bills, only H.R. 3791 has seen House floor action. On December 5,
2007, the House passed H.R. 3791 by a vote of 409-2; on December 6, 2007, the
measure was referred to the ..nate Judiciary Committee.
For the Department of Justice to supervise convicted sex offenders’ access to
the Internet, H.R. 719, Keeping the Internet Devoid of Predators Act of 2007
(Pomeroy), would authorize to be appropriated $5 million for each of fiscal years
2008 through 2013. Funding to monitor the Internet would be used to evaluate and
purchase computer internet filtering, monitoring, and other programs and devices that
are designed to filter access to certain websites; train probation officers to use these
devices to supervise sex offenders; and hire additional probation officers and other
personnel to supervise sex offenders effectively.
H.R. 719 would include as a discretionary condition of probation and supervised
release that a sex offender who is required to register obtain access to the Internet
only from computers approved by the probation officer. The sex offender would
have to consent to fully cooperate with: periodic examinations of the computers by
the probation officer; installation on the computer of any hardware or software
filtering systems designated by the probation officer, as well as installation of
monitoring systems or hardware that permit the probation officer to monitor the
defendant’s computer. Finally, the defendant would have to agree not to disable or
evade filtering or monitoring programs or devices.
H.R. 719 would fine or imprison for a maximum of 20 years, or both, a person
who conducts or attempts or conspires to conduct a financial transaction in or
affecting interstate or foreign commerce knowing that the transaction will facilitate
access to or possession of child pornography. H.R. 719 would require the U.S.
Sentencing Commission to review and amend, if appropriate, the federal sentencing
guidelines that apply to persons convicted of sex offenses involving children and use
of the Internet when the offender’s age is misrepresented or status as a sex offender
is not revealed.
H.R. 837, Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s
Youth Act (SAFETY) of 2007 (Lamar Smith) would prohibit and impose penalties
on an Internet content hosting provider or e-mail service provider who knowingly
fails to report several activities on the Internet that sexually exploit children. The bill
would prohibit any financial transactions in interstate or foreign commerce that
facilitate access to or possession of child pornography. Whoever is convicted of
these activities would be subject to a fine or 20 years imprisonment or both. H.R.
837 would provide for a fine or imprisonment of not more than 10 years or both for
any Internet content hosting provider or e-mail service provider who knowingly
engages in activities that would facilitate access to or possession of child
H.R. 837 would amend the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 by imposing
the same penalty as provided in H.R. 3791 of a $150,000 fine for the first offense and
up to $300,000 for a subsequent failure for a provider of electronic communication
services or remote computing services who knowingly fails to report child
pornography. H.R. 837 would authorize the Federal Communication Commission
to impose a civil penalty of $50,000 for the first failure of a provider of electronic
communication services or remote computing services who negligently fails to report
child pornography and up to $100,000 for any subsequent failure.
H.R. 837 would authorize the Attorney General, within 90 days of enactment
of this act, to issue regulations governing the retention of records by Internet Service
Providers. To comply with court orders that may require information regarding these
records, these regulations, minimally, would require retention of records, such as the
name and address of the subscriber or registered user to whom an Internet Protocol
address, user identification or telephone number was assigned. For anyone who
knowingly fails to keep these records, a fine and imprisonment for not more than one
year, or both could be imposed.
H.R. 837 would increase penalties for activities relating to sexual exploitation
of children, material involving the sexual exploitation of children, and child
pornography. The measure would require commercial website operators to place
warning marks on web pages indicating that they contain sexually explicit materials
and would impose a fine, a penalty, or both for failure to do so.
H.R. 837 would authorize to be appropriated $30 million for each of the fiscal
years 2008 through 2012 for the Innocent Images .........Initiative (IINI). IINI’s
mission is to reduce the use of computers in sexually exploiting and abusing children;
identify and rescue victims of this exploitation and abuse; investigate sexual
predators who use the Internet for such purposes; and strengthen, through training
and investigative assistance, the capabilities of law enforcement at the federal, state,
local and international levels.
H.R. 719 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland ..curity on March 1, 2007. On November 14,
2007, the House passed H.R. 719, and on November 15, 2007, referred the measure
to the ..nate Judiciary Committee.
Two bills with provisions regarding DNA are H.R. 252 (Jackson-Lee) and H.R.
3833 (King). H.R. 252 would require the Attorney General to establish and maintain
a DNA database solely to collect information on violent predators who commit
crimes against children. The Attorney General would be authorized to issue
regulations whereby federal, state, and local agencies and other entities would submit
DNA information for inclusion in the database for comparison with other information
in it. To establish the DNA database, the bill would authorize to be appropriated
Whereas provisions of H.R. 252 would focus on collecting DNA information
for a database on violent predators who commit crimes against children, H.R. 3833
would address eliminating the backlog of convicted child sex offender DNA samples15
awaiting analysis. H.R. 3833 would require the Director of the FBI, in consultation
with representatives of states and appropriate federal agencies, to develop a plan to
assist states in performing analyses of DNA samples collected from convicted child
sex offenders. In providing this assistance, the Director must give preference to
states with a developed comprehensive program for DNA analysis of crime scene
evidence in casework for which there are no suspects; establish requirements for
performing DNA analyses by private forensic laboratories; determine which of these
laboratories satisfy the established requirements as well as the quantity of convicted
child sex offender DNA samples in a state that the laboratory would analyze; and
provide funding to the laboratory to cover the cost of performing the analyses.
Access to DNA samples would be limited to criminal justice agencies, judicial
proceedings, criminal defense purposes, and validation studies and protocol
Locating and Monitoring Sex Offenders
H.R. 719 and H.R. 4094 (Forbes) would amend provisions of the Walsh Act
that relate to the monitoring of sex offenders. To electronically monitor sex
offenders, both H.R. 719 and H.R. 4094 (Forbes) would modify the current minimum
standards established by the Walsh Act that provide for a single-unit tracking device
for each offender that contains a central processing unit with global positioning
system and cellular technology in a single unit, and provides two-and three-way voice
communication; and permit active, real-time, and continuous monitoring of offenders
24 hours a day. H.R. 719 and H.R. 4094 would delete the provision for two- and
three-way voice communication and would require that, in the pilot program to
monitor sex offenders, a tracking device for each offender contain a central program
unit with a global positioning system and allow an offender to be monitored 24
hours a day.
15 For a fuller discussion of the issue of DNA backlog, see CRS Report RL33489, An
Overview and Funding History of .elect Department of Justice (DOJ) Grant Programs, by
...han James, Analyst in Crime Policy.
H.R. 1656 (Poe), and H.R. 1684, (Bennie Thompson), among other provisions,
would provide for access to information on sex offenders during emergencies. H.R.
1656 would amend the Privacy Act of 1974 to allow a governmental agency, during
a major disaster or emergency, access to databases maintained by the Federal
Emergency.Management Agency.(FEMA) to comply with sex offender registry and
notification laws. The bill would award federal funds to a nongovernmental
organization to evacuate persons from an area during a disaster or emergency,
provided the organization agreed to disclose records it maintained in connection with
such services to a jurisdiction if the information is needed to comply with federal or
state sex offender registry or notification law.
H.R. 1684, another measure to locate missing children or registered sex
offenders during emergencies, would require the Department of Homeland ..curity
to share information with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. H. R
1684 was adopted by the House Committee on Homeland ..curity by voice vote; the
bill was reported (H.Rept. 110-122) on March 28, 2007. On May 9, 2007, the House
passed H.R. 1684 by a vote of 296 to 126. On May 11, 2007, the bill was received
in the ..nate and referred to the Committee on Homeland ..curity and
As stated earlier, H.R. 5722 would require a convicted sex offender in the U.S.
to meet registration requirements by informing a jurisdiction in advance of any plans
to depart to or arrive from a foreign place. The bill also would require both the
Secretary of Homeland ..curity and the Attorney General to establish reporting
procedures, determine what information is to be reported, and provide appropriate
alternative reporting requirements in emergencies when the reporting requirement
may be impracticable or inappropriate.
Sexual and Other Crimes Against the Elderly and Minors
Two bills, H.R. 2105, Elder Abuse Prevention Act (Chandler) and H.R. 2106,
No Parole for Sex Offenders Act (Chandler), would address penalties for any
sexually violent predator or individual who commits a crime against the elderly or
a minor. H.R. 2105 would require states to enact laws to prohibit parole for a sexual
predator or any individual convicted of a sexual offense against an elderly person;
H.R. 2106 would prohibit parole for any individual or sexually violent predator
convicted of a criminal offense against a minor. Each bill would require that states
comply with its provision within three years of enactment of this act, with a possible
extension of an additional two years, or lose 10% of funds that would otherwise be
allocated for that fiscal year to a state for certain Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant
programs under provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of
Each bill would provide for the U.S. Sentencing Commission to promptly
review sentencing guidelines applicable to sexual offenses committed against either
the elderly or a minor and consider promulgating new ones. The Sentencing
Commission would also have to explain to Congress its actions on amending
sentencing guidelines, and any additional policy recommendations it may have for
combating crimes against the elderly or a minor. Under provisions of both bills, the
U.S. Sentencing Commission must promulgate these guidelines or amendments as
soon as practicable but no later than 180 days after enactment of this act.
Sexual Misconduct in Educational Institutions
H.R. 1829, Student Protection Act (Putnam), and a similar bill, S. 2360, Student
Protection Act (Martinez), would address sexual misconduct against a student by an
individual in an elementary and secondary school system. H.R. 1829 would require
each state to have in effect for FY2010 and thereafter laws and policies which ensure
that if an educator believes another educator has been involved in an act of sexual
misconduct with a student, then the individual must report the incident to the state
as quickly as practicable and within 48 hours whenever possible. S. 2360 would
provide these same reporting requirements of an eligible employee or volunteer in a
school system but would require the individual to report the incident within the same
time frame that is stipulated for reporting child abuse and neglect. Both bills would
require that the individual be disciplined who fails to report an incident of sexual
misconduct against a student.
H.R. 1829 and S. 2360 would require the state to have a single, statewide
commission for receiving reports of sexual misconduct against a student. In addition,
the commission would be required to have policies for investigating and reporting
such incidents and also have established a toll-free number that can be used
anonymously to make reports. H.R. 1829 would provide that if an educator is
punished for sexual misconduct against a student, then the details of the educator, the
punishment, and the incident must be reported to the ..cretary of Education; S. 2360
alone would require inclusion of the last known address of the perpetrator of the
misconduct. In addition to providing similar documentation on an employee or
volunteer in a school system as H.R. 1829 requires, S. 2360 would provide for the
Secretary of Education to be informed whenever an employee or volunteer who is
guilty of sexual misconduct with a student is terminated from association with the
state or local educational agency or public or private school.
If a state does not comply with these provisions for a fiscal year, both measures
would authorize the Secretary of Education to reduce by up to 5% the amounts for
which a state would have been eligible under the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act of 1965. Funding not allocated or awarded to a state for
noncompliance with these provisions would be available for states that do comply.
Both bills would require the ..cretary to report to Congress annually on the activities
carried out under this act, identifying both states that are in compliance and those that
H.R. 1829 and S. 2360 would require the Secretary of Education to maintain a
national database of incidents of sexual misconduct against a student. S. 2360 would
include in the national database incidents of sexual misconduct with a student that
have resulted in an eligible employee or volunteer being terminated from association
with the state or local educational agency, public or private school, or punished,
fined, or sanctioned by any level of state government. S. 2360 would provide that the
database include, at a minimum, the required reporting information, and also that the
database be available to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, and
private schools. H.R. 1829 would make the database available to the public.
A number of bills would provide grants for eligible entities to address the issues
of sex offenders and sexual abuse of children. H.R. 3322, Cops for Kids Act
(Boswell) would authorize the Attorney General to make grants to states and units
of local government to develop programs for hiring personnel to monitor the
activities of sex offenders in the community. To be eligible for grant funding under
provisions of H.R. 3322, a state or unit of local government must contribute at least
50% of the costs of developing a sex offender monitoring program that includes
hiring personnel and providing training. The bill would authorize to be appropriated
$50 million for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2013 to carry out this act.
Whereas H.R. 3322 would provide grants to state and local governments, H.R.
4147, Grants for the Implementation of the .............Registration Tips Program
(King) would require the Attorney General to provide grants to the not-for-profit
community and victim’s rights organization, Parents for Megan’s Law to implement
the .............Registration Tips Program. This is a program to reduce sexual
victimization by (1) providing up-to-date and accurate sex offender registry
information to federal, state, and local law enforcement entities through the .........
Megan’s Law Helpline staffed by Parents for Megan’s Law, and the Internet website
of the organization; (2) enabling the analysis and coordination of community tips on
sex offenders who fail to comply with registration requirements or who violate
conditions of their probation or parole; and (3) identifying geographic locations
where sex offenders are identified as in violation of registry requirements of the
jurisdiction involved or of the conditions of their probation or parole. For grants for
this purpose, H.R. 4147 would authorize to be appropriated $500 thousand for each
of FY2009 through FY2013.
H.R. 2517, Protecting Our Children First Act of 2007 (Lampson) and S. 1829,
Protect Our Children First Act of 2007( Leahy) are similar bills that would amend the
Missing Children’s Assistance Act by adding purposes for which the annual grant to
the .........Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) can be used. As
it relates to the sex offender issue,16 these bills would amend the duties and functions
of the Administrator of NCMEC to require that grants be used to identify and locate
sex offenders who have not complied with the registration requirements of the Walsh
Act. H.R. 2517 alone would require NCMEC to provide to the DOJ’s Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention annual reports on the numbers of
children identified as missing nationwide, victims of non-family abductions, victims
of parental kidnappings, as well as the number of children who were reported to
NCMEC as recovered.
H.R. 2517 would provide grants for a number of purposes, including to protect
children from sex offenders and sexual abuse. Current law provides for grants to be
used to operate a cyber tipline to provide an effective means of reporting Internet-
related child sexual exploitation for online users and electronic service providers in
16 For a fuller discussion of provisions of H.R. 2517 and S. 1289, see CRS Report RL34050,
Missing and Exploited Children: Background, Policies, and Issues by Adrienne Fernandes,
Analyst in Social Legislation.
the areas of distribution of child pornography, online enticement of children for
sexual acts, and child prostitution. Under provisions of H.R. 2517, grants would be
used for this purpose in the following additional areas: (1) possession and
manufacture of child pornography, (2) sex tourism involving children, (3)
extrafamilial child sexual molestation, (4) unsolicited obscene material sent to a
child, (5) misleading domain names, and (6) misleading words or digital images on
the Internet. S. 1829 would provide grants for the cyber tipline for these same areas
with the exception of “misleading domain names” and “misleading words or digital
images.” Both bills would require the NCMEC to transmit reports with information
on Internet-related child sexual exploitation, including relevant images and
information, to the appropriate international, federal, state or local law enforcement
agency for investigation.
Grants also would be used to collaborate with law enforcement, Internet service
providers, electronic payment service providers and others on methods to reduce the
distribution of images and videos of sexually exploited children on the Internet.
Grant funds would be used to operate a child victim identification program in order
to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of child pornography and
other sexual crimes. Finally, grants would be used to develop and disseminate
programs and information to the general public, schools, public officials, and youth-
serving and nonprofit organizations on the prevention of child abduction and sexual
exploitation and Internet safety.
For these purposes, both H.R. 2517 and S. 1829 would reauthorize funds to be
appropriated in FY2008 by increasing the level from $20 million to $40 million and
would provide such sums as may be necessary for of each of FY2009 through
On December 5, 2007, the House passed H.R. 2517, as amended and referred
the measure to the ..nate on January 22, 2008. On May 20, 2008, the ..nate passed
the bill without amendment. It was presented to the President for signature on May
On December 13, 2007, the ..nate Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote
S. 1829, as amended.
H.R. 291 would provide for the ......................Risk Classification Task
Force (discussed above under the heading, “Provisions Related to Registration
Requirements, Apprehension and Penalties”) to carry out a demonstration program
under which it would select and award a one-year grant to each of five jurisdictions.
The selected jurisdiction would use grant funds to (1) implement a risk-based sex
offender classification system using sex offenders registered in the jurisdiction’s sex
offender registry, (2) demonstrate the extent to which the preliminary guidelines
contributed to successful implementation of an effective risk-based sex offender
classification system, and (3) identify ways to improve the preliminary guidelines to
better guide jurisdictions in implementing an effective risk-based sex offender
classification system. The bill would authorize to be appropriated $1 million for each
of fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010.
H.R. 876 and S. 519 would require the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S.
Attorney General, and the head of any other relevant federal agency to encourage
foreign governments to stop the production and transmission of child pornography
and cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Internet Crimes Against
Children Task Force to combat the creation and transmission of child pornography.
The bills would also authorize to be appropriated to the Attorney General $25 million
for grants to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
In addition to other provisions that are discussed earlier in this report (see above
section, “DNA Database”), H.R. 252 would authorize to be appropriated such sums
as necessary for incentive grants to each state that has in effect at least one program
that decreases the rate of recidivism among violent predators who commit crimes
Reauthorization of Certain Walsh Act Activities and Programs
H.R. 5760, the Child Protection Reauthorization Act (Brown-Waite), would
reauthorize certain Walsh Act programs and activities. The bill would extend the
authorization through 2011 for the .............Management Assistance (SOMA),
Federal Assistance with Respect to Violations of Registration Requirements, and
Grants to Combat Sexual Abuse of Children programs. The authorization also would
be extended through 2011 for the Pilot Program for Monitoring Sexual Offenders. For
the report to Congress that the Attorney General is required to make concerning this
pilot program, the bill would change the due date from not later than September 1,
For the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program, H.R. 5760 would
also extend the authorization through 2011. In addition, the bill would change the due
date of a report the Attorney General is required to make to Congress that assesses this
program to “after April 1, 2010, but not later than April 1, 2011.”
For the Fugitive Safe Surren....Program, H.R. 5722 would reauthorize the
program at $8 million for each of the fiscal years 2009 through 2011.
In addition, the bill would reauthorize two other grant programs, the ....
O........Apprehension and the Juvenile .............Treatment Grants, through
Funding of Walsh Act Programs
For FY2009, the Bush Administration proposes to consolidate funding for
programs under DOJ’s State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance, Weed and Seed,
and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) accounts into three flexible,
competitive grant programs (violent crime reduction partnership initiative program,
Byrne public safety and protection program, and the COPS program). The
Administration also proposes to consolidate existing juvenile justice and exploited
children programs into a single, flexible, competitively awarded grant program called
the Child Safety Juvenile Justice Program. According to the Administration, these
consolidations would ensure better coordination of comprehensive training and
technical assistance initiatives for state and local law enforcement on violent crime
control, community policing, and juvenile justice issues. With funding from the Child
Safety Juvenile Justice Program and the Byrne Public Safety and Protection Program,
state and local governments could support activities authorized in the Walsh Act that
combat child sexual exploitation and target sex offenders.
FY2007 and FY2008
The first full year for which activities under the Walsh Act could have received
funding was FY2007. For that fiscal year, most federal departments and agencies
received funding under a long-term (i.e., balance of the fiscal year) continuing
resolution, (Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007; P.L. 110-5), which
was enacted on February 15, 2007. Funding was provided for most programs at their
FY2006 funding levels, and P.L. 110-5 did not provide funding for newly established
programs. Except as described below, Congress did not appropriate funding directly
for programs under the Adam Walsh Act prior to FY2008.17
For FY2007, the Attorney General announced $25 million in funding (from the
Byrne Discretionary Grant Program),18 which was allocated for implementing certain
provisions of the Adam Walsh Act as follows:
!$4 million to create software to assist jurisdictions in complying with
!$12.8 million to support jurisdictions in implementing SORNA,
!$600,000 to Indian Country SORNA Implementation Conferences,
!$1.4 million for sex offender management and accountability
!$5 million to create or enhance residential juvenile sex offender
!$1 million for the .........Institute of Justice for research on sex
offender issues (the effectiveness of monitoring and treating sex
offenders, restricting the activities of sex offenders, and risk-based
sex offender classification systems), and
!$200,000 for peer review of grants.
For FY2008, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY2008 (P.L. 110-161)
provided funding for a small number of programs authorized under the Walsh Act:
!......................Public Registry. Although the Walsh Act
does not specifically provide an authorization level for the .........
S............Public Registry (Sec. 119), P.L. 110-161 provides
17 Information obtained from DOJ in April 2008.
!.............Management Assistance Program. The Walsh Act
authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for the
Attorney General to establish and implement the .............
Management Assistance Program (Sec. 126) for FY2007 through
FY2009. P.L. 110-161 provides $4.16 million for SOMA.
!Additional Prosecutors for Offenses Relating to the ...ual
Exploitation of Children. The Walsh Act authorizes to be
appropriated such sums as may be necessary for FY2007, for hiring
additional U.S. Attorneys to prosecute offenses relating to the sexual
exploitation of children (Sec. 704). P.L. 110-161 provides $5 million
for the U.S. Attorneys Office to prosecute offenses relating to the
sexual exploitation of children.
Continuing Policy Issues
As discussed in this report, Congress has passed laws with provisions to protect
the public from sex offenders by confining them and, once they are released,
monitoring their movements. The debate, however, on sex offenders, their
punishment and management continues and, as discussed in the previous section,
additional legislation has been introduced in the 110th Congress.
Issues related to sex offender laws have included the extent to which they are
enforced, their effectiveness, the adequacy or targeting of federal funding to support
registration and notification, and the extent to which they reflect available research on
sex offender recidivism. These issues are discussed below.
Enforcement of Registration Requirements
A major concern of supporters of sex offender registration is whether sex
offenders are actually registering in states. An investigation in 2003 by the Associated
Press suggested that California could not account for 33,000 sex offenders. A
subsequent survey, conducted by Parents for Megan’s Law in 2003, which has not
been published but has been reported in the press, also suggested that thousands of
convicted offenders had failed to register with states as legally required. Others, while
registering, had provided false addresses or changed addresses without updating
registration information. According to the Parents for Megan’s Law survey, on
average, states could not account for 24% of sex offenders who were supposed to be
in their sex offender registries. In addition, 23 states missed between 10% and 50%
of their sex offenders, while 17 states could not determine how many offenders were19
19 Jennifer Coleman, “Lawmakers Review Audit of Megan’s Law Registry,” Associated
Press State and Local Wire, September 23, 2003; Kim Curtis, “Survey: States Have Lost
Track of Thousands of Sex Offenders,” Associated Press State and Local Wire, February
Effectiveness of state sex offender registration programs do not appear to vary
with the size of the sex offender population. Florida, a populous state, identified two
reasons for its relatively low rate of noncompliance, 4.7% of 27,689 offenders. One
is that each year the state’s Department of Law Enforcement mails letters to sex
offenders and closely monitors letters that are returned. Certain state agencies have
entire units whose purpose is to follow-up on offenders who fail to respond. The state
employs 11 full-time staff to track offenders who do not register. Another reason for
Florida’s low rate of noncompliance is the state’s use of technology, which helps keep
track of unregistered offenders. For example, Florida requires a sex offender to carry
a state identification card. Several Florida agencies, including those that issue drivers’
licenses and state identification cards, have direct electronic access to the sex offender
database, and by cross-checking can monitor offenders.20 According to the Attorney
General of North Dakota, a state with a smaller population of sex offenders required
to register, 32 of 1,006 convicted offenders had failed to register. North Dakota’s
compliance rate was 97%. The North Dakota Attorney General attributed the state’s
high compliance rate to law enforcement’s placing a high priority on enforcing the sex
offender registration laws.21 Following is a sampling of noncompliance rates of
selected states as reported by the Parents for Megan’s Law survey: New York, 10%
of 18,000 sex offenders were reportedly unregistered; California, 44% of 76,350
offenders; Ohio, 3.3% of 9,086 offenders; Oklahoma, 50% of 4,711;22 Tennessee, 50%
of 6,300 offenders;23 Florida, 4.7% of 27,689 offenders; Massachusetts, 44% of
Both the survey by Parents for Megan’s Law and state audits of sex offender
registries revealed that serious and high-risk sex offenders often failed to register and
that state databases contained errors, inconsistencies, and outdated information. In
California, address information had not been updated for at least a year and, in some
cases, updates had not occurred for at least five years.24 Explanations given for the
poor enforcement of sex offender registration by law enforcement agencies vary.
Other than monitoring sex offenders, state and local law enforcement agencies may
also be responsible for tracking domestic violence orders, missing persons,
outstanding arrest warrants, DNA information, and more. Spokesmen for many state
and local law enforcement agencies argue that they lack the manpower and resources
to adequately monitor sex offenders because of budgetary crises. Some at the state
level attribute much of the inaccurate data in the registry to their reliance on local law
enforcement personnel/agencies that provide the information.25
21 “S............Registry Failure Cited in State,” Daily Oklahoman, February 7, 2003.
22 Reportedly, this percentage is disputed, but an Oklahoman spokesman could not cite a
number for the state because no study of the compliance rate had been done.
23 This percentage is disputed; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports a
noncompliance figure of 37% of 5,812 offenders.
24 California State Auditor, Bureau of State Audits, Summary of Report 2003-105, August
25 Ibid., p. 2. Chad Kinsella, “Court OKs .............Registries:.Recent U.S. Supreme
Court Rulings Find State .............Registries Constitutional, but Implementation Poses
There are several explanations given for the failure of sex offenders to register.
One view is that requirements to register every three months, which apply to certain
sex offenders, place a large burden on individuals who may have difficulty organizing
their lives. Another view is that some sex offenders are ignorant of the registration
requirement and believe that they have to register only once. Some state that
offenders are simply irresponsible and do not take the need to register seriously.
Finally, it is argued that sex offenders fail to register because they just don’t want to
Effectiveness of Community Notification Programs
Although sex offender registration and community notification programs were
created primarily to protect the public, some question whether they are effective. They
challenge the assumptions underlying these programs that communities would be safe
with sex offender laws with harsh penalties; that the recidivism rate of sex offenders
is inordinately high; and that once a sex offender, always an offender. They suggest
that a legislative approach would be more effective that recognizes pedophilia and
some other sexual disorders as both a criminal justice matter and a public health
Few studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of sex offender
registration and community notification programs. Only two states, Washington and
Wisconsin, have conducted evaluations of their community notification programs, and
neither study is particularly recent.
Washington. In 1998, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy released
its findings of a telephone survey conducted in the state over a four-week period in28
1997. Results of the survey revealed that
!80% of respondents were aware of the state’s community notification
law prior to the telephone interview;
!About a one-third of the residents knew that released sex offenders
were residing in their communities;
!About three-fourths of respondents attributed their increased
knowledge about sex offenses and how sex offenders operate to
Problems,” State Government News, vol. 46, no. 5 (May 1, 2003), p. 7; “Police Can’t Find
26 Anna Uhls, “Some Sex Offenders Off the Grid,” Colorado Daily via U-Wire, University
Wire, June 29, 2004.
27 Testimony of Fred Berlin, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. House Judiciary Committee,
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland ..curity, June 9, 2005.
28 Dretha M. Phillips, Community Notification as Viewed by Washington’s Citizens
(Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 1998), pp. 2-4 [http://www.wsipp.
!Over 60% of residents believed that the behavior of sex offenders
improved more with community notification than without it;
!Three-fourths of respondents thought that as a result of community
notification, convicted sex offenders would have difficulty
establishing new lives in terms of finding a job, obtaining housing,
making friends, etc., but less than half of the respondents believed
that offenders “should be given every opportunity for a new start as
law-abiding citizens”; and
!Eight out of 10 respondents felt the community notification law was
In another paper, published in 1995 by the Washington State Institute for Public
Policy, the costs of implementing the state’s community notification law were
addressed.29 Researchers found that the size of a community’s population (urban or
rural), and policy decisions at the local level influenced the cost of implementing
community notification. If a community had a small population and few sex offenders
who were required to register, notification was handled informally, usually through
the county sheriff, resulting in lower costs. Further, in an area with a large population
and many registered sex offenders, the costs would increase because of the time and
manpower required to track offenders after notification and to investigate an
offender’s conduct and charges of harassment of an offender by some community
In addition, policy decisions influence costs associated with community
notification. If a law enforcement agency, as an information repository, relies on sex
offender information supplied by state agencies (such as the state patrol, department
of corrections, etc.) and reviews only those offenders who have been drawn to the
agency’s attention, such as through a special bulletin, costs can be modest. By using
the standard manner of issuing releases, for example, through schools or press
releases, it saves postage costs and officers’ time. The study found that where public
officials make community notification a high priority and officers are assigned
responsibility for monitoring convicted sex offenders, costs are higher. To take these
steps may require an increase in payroll expenses and an investment in equipment
Wisconsin. Generally, there are three types of notification laws. They require
law enforcement agencies to inform residents of sex offenders moving into
neighborhoods; enable the public to gain access to relevant data on sex offenders; and
require convicted child molesters to identify themselves as sex offenders. Wisconsin’s
community notification statute, however, requires officials only to inform residents
about the release and reintegration of sex offenders in their communities.
In 2000, a study assessing the impact of the sex offender community notification
law in Wisconsin was published, which examined the effect of this law on residents,
29 Carol Poole and Roxanne Lieb, Community Notification in Washington State: Decision
Making and Costs (Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 1995), pp. 13-14,
[ h t t p : / / www.wsi pp.wa.go v/ r p t f i l e s/ cpr t cost .pdf ] .
law enforcement resources, parole and probation officer resources, and offenders. In
1998, 704 persons attending 22 community notification meetings (held from January
1998 through mid-September 1998) throughout Wisconsin were surveyed to
determine the impact of community notification on residents. Although results of the
study revealed that, generally, community notification was used to improve
community protection, 18% of the residents attending notification meetings thought
the purpose was to discuss removing or preventing an offender from residing in the
neighborhood. While 71% of respondents felt they were better informed, 35% left the
meetings with less anxiety about sex offenders in their communities than before; 38%
were more concerned; and 27% left the meeting with the same level of concern.31
Local and county law enforcement agencies were surveyed to identify agencies’
policies and practices in implementing community notification law. Of 312
questionnaires sent to local and county law enforcement agencies, 188 were returned.
Wisconsin’s law enforcement guidelines for sex offender registration and notification
recommend a collaborative approach among law enforcement, corrections, and other
agencies in executing the notification process. Survey data revealed that 86% of law
enforcement agencies were familiar with the state’s guidelines and 66% reported that
their policies and procedures reflected those guidelines.
Many law enforcement agencies considered community notification to be an
unfunded mandate because of the additional work and costs associated with
implementing it. More than 66% of law enforcement agencies responding to the
survey were concerned about the increase in labor expenditures resulting from
implementing community notification. Agencies found the law’s registration
requirements beneficial because of an increase in information-sharing, but reported
that community notification was less beneficial, with less than 41% believing that it
improved the management and containment of sex offender behavior due to greater
visibility. Based on responses to the survey, the following recommendations were
made. Local and county law enforcement agencies were to consider: continuing the
collaborative information-sharing and problem-solving approach; developing written
policies and training protocols that address the announcement of meetings,
distributing pertinent information about sex offenders such as their release locations,
answering questions, and handling negative or hostile reactions to the release of a
specific offender; and seeking federal or state funding for training and overtime
expenses associated with sex offender registration and community notification.32
Probation and parole agents of sex offenders throughout Wisconsin were also
surveyed for their assessment of the impact of community notification. Survey
findings showed that agents and supervisors who were responsible for implementing
community notification were knowledgeable and trained on policies. The survey
revealed that the caseload for agents in urban areas was much greater than in rural
ones. The average caseload for agents surveyed was 25 active cases, but nine agents
had 40 or more sex offenders to supervise, and six of the nine had 50 or more.
31 Richard G. Zevitz and Mary Ann Farkas, S............Community Notification: Assessing
the Impact in Wisconsin, .........Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, December 2000, pp. 1-4.
32 Ibid., pp. 5-6.
Twenty-nine percent of agents had 30 offenders to supervise and 37% had an average
of 21 to 30 offenders; 12% supervised 11-20 offenders, and 22% had 10 or fewer
offenders. Some of the heavier caseloads involved low-risk sex offender cases
(nonviolent offense, no prior felony, etc.) that did not require the same intensive
supervision that high-risk offenders did; nevertheless, community notification had
considerably increased the workloads of probation and parole units in the state.33
Problems identified by agents and unit supervisors that are associated with
handling sex offender cases, include finding housing for offenders and increased
paperwork associated with supervising high risk sex offenders. An example of these
increased time demands is agents’ participation in community notification meetings.
Forty-six percent of respondents reported that as part of their job they attended at least
one and in some cases more than six such meetings, served as presenters at the
meetings, and assisted local and county law enforcement in planning and organizing
a notification meeting. It was estimated that this involvement with community
notification required about 40 hours of agent time per meeting.34
Finally, high-risk sex offenders were surveyed to determine how the community
notification process affected them. Of the 30 sex offenders interviewed, all but one
stated that the process adversely affected them. Seventy-seven percent told of being
humiliated daily, ostracized by neighbors and lifetime friends, and harassed or
threatened by neighbors or strangers. Although only one was the victim of vigilante
action, all were concerned for their own safety. Two-thirds of survey participants
mentioned the negative impact of the notification process on their family members,
including parents, siblings, and children. Five of the respondents who lived in the
same communities as their victims expressed concern for how notification and
renewed public attention might affect their victims. While only a few of the
interviewed sex offenders thought the notification would prevent reoffending by
making their actions more visible to the public, a majority suggested that the pressure
they felt from the public and the media would “drive many sex offenders back to
Federal Funding in Support of
Registration and Notification Requirements
Federal laws directly or indirectly relating to sex offender registration have
provided substantial funding over time to support a collaborative effort of federal,
state, and local law enforcement both in combating crime and in sharing information
across jurisdictional and state lines. The following review of the purposes and
funding of a few selected programs provides a glimpse of federal assistance to state
and local governments in battling crime, in general, and in supporting sex offender
registration and community notification, in particular. To assist in this law
enforcement effort, the Adam Walsh Act established some new grant programs,
described in more detail earlier in this report.
33 Ibid., p. 7.
34 Ibid., p. 8.
35 Ibid., pp. 9-10.
Some other direct sources of grants to assist law enforcement in addressing sex
offender issues include the Training Program to Assist Probation and Parole Officers
(.............Management Assistance Program), the Crime Identification
Technology Act (CITA), and the .........Criminal History Improvement Program
(NCHIP). CITA, administered by DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, is the umbrella
for criminal justice technological and communications needs. On the other hand,
NCHIP, administered by DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, provides funding
primarily for records.
Two general sources of grants to assist law enforcement in reducing crime and
improving public safety have been the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program
and the Byrne formula grants, which were consolidated in FY2005 into the Edward
Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. Purpose areas under these two
grant programs for which funds can be used include sex offender registration;
overtime pay to law enforcement personnel and support personnel; obtaining
equipment, technology and other material related to basic law enforcement functions;
technology improvement programs; and corrections and treatment programs. These
programs are discussed below. (For further discussion of federal crime-prevention
funding, see CRS Report RL32824, Federal Crime Control: Background, Legislation,
and Issues, by Lisa M. Seghetti, coordinator.)
Training Program to Assist Probation and Parole Officers or Sex36
.........Management Assistance Program. The .............Management
Assistance (SOMA) training program provides assistance to states and local
jurisdictions in managing sex offenders under community supervision. (There is also
a provision in the Adam Walsh Act for a SOMA grant program, which is discussed
earlier in this report.) SOMA also addresses problems that parole and probation
officers face in supervising the transition of sex offenders back into the community.
SOMA goals include encouraging jurisdictions to focus on juvenile and adult sex
offenders under community supervision and ensuring that new initiatives of
communities result in a locally tailored collaborative and comprehensive approach to
managing sex offenders; helping jurisdictions to expand their existing sex offender
management strategies; documenting community practices, challenges, and successes
in planning approaches to sex offender management; and collecting and evaluating
information on existing practices and their outcomes. Enacted funding, after
rescissions, for this program for FY2000 through FY2007 was $33.90 million. In37
FY2007 alone, $4.90 million, after rescissions, was provided. FY2008 enacted
funding for SOMA was $3.29 million.
36 This program was originally established in the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 13941) and most recently reauthorized in the Violence
Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162).
37 These figures were taken from the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and
Related Agencies Appropriations Committee Conference Reports for each fiscal year and
the Department of Justice Budget Justifications, Office of Justice Programs, FY2006 and
P.L. 110-05, Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, February 20, 2007, 120 Stat.
Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998. As described earlier, the
Crime Identification Technology Act (CITA) of 1998 (P.L. 105-251) was enacted to
assist states in establishing or upgrading criminal history record systems and to
improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to share information across local
jurisdictions and state lines. One of the 17 specific areas for which grant funds can
be used is enhancing sex offender identification, tracking, and registration systems.
Another area is improving the capability of the criminal justice system to provide, in
a timely manner, accurate and complete criminal record information to state agencies,
organizations, and programs that assess risk and other activities related to protecting
children, including protecting them from sexual abuse and placing them in foster care.
Also, grant funds can be used for improving criminal justice information systems to
allow state and local participation in the FBI’s .........Instant Check System and
establishing an integrated criminal justice system that allows law enforcement
agencies, courts, prosecutors, and corrections agencies access to the same
information. For FY2000 through FY2006, total funding appropriated for CITA was
$526.20 million. In FY2006 alone, $28.78 million was appropriated. Appropriations
for CITA in FY2007 was $28.4 million. No funding was provided for this program
N........Criminal History Improvement Program. The N........
Criminal History Improvement Program38 is a discretionary grant program that was
initiated in 1995 as part of a federal effort to ensure that law enforcement has access
to accurate records and to protect public safety and n........s.curity. NCHIP provides
direct funding to states for improving the quality, timeliness and accessibility of
criminal history records including records of protective orders involving domestic
violence and stalking, and development and enhancement of state sex offender
registries. Funding allows acquisition of advanced equipment, conversion of manual
records to an electronic/automated format, and development of software. For
compatibility, NCHIP requires all record enhancements resulting from program funds
to conform to FBI standards for Interstate Identification Index participation. NCHIP
also provides technical assistance directly to states to help them upgrade criminal
records and improve interface with the FBI’s n........systems, including the .........
S............Registry (NSOR). Beginning with FY2000, NCHIP has been funded
under the Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998 (P.L.105-251). For FY2000-
FY2006, NCHIP appropriations were $236.9 million. In FY2006 alone, NCHIP
received $10 million.39 Appropriations for NCHIP in FY2007 and FY2008 were
$9.87 million and $9.4 million, respectively. According to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics, funding for NCHIP has enabled all of the states, the District of Columbia,
and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to provide almost
38 This grant program implements provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
(P.L. 103-159), the N........Child Protection Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-209), and the Violent
Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 104-145), as amended, that relate
to establishing, maintaining, or using criminal history records and criminal record systems.
39 FY2007 funding is not available at this time.
40 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, N........
Criminal History Improvement Program FY2004 Program Announcement, and the
Recidivism is broadly defined as the commission of a subsequent offense. A
major factor that influenced passage of sex offender registration and community
notification laws is the perception that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is
extremely high. Results of studies of sex offender recidivism vary greatly and actually
contribute to the confusion surrounding the actual rate of sex offender recidivism. In
a 2001 report that examined available research, the Center for S............
Management (CSOM) identified several reasons for the contradictory findings of
studies of sex offender recidivism, such as how recidivism is defined, the sample of
sex offenders and behaviors included in each study, and the length of the time period
According to CSOM, the definition of recidivism can be measured by
determining whether there is a new arrest, a new conviction, or a new commitment to
a correctional institution. While each of these criteria is a valid measure of
recidivism, each measures something different, leading to varied outcomes. For
instance, when recidivism is measured using new arrests or charges as the criteria, the
recidivism rate will be higher because more individuals are arrested than are
convicted. When a subsequent conviction is the criterion for measuring recidivism,
the rate of recidivism is lower. When the criterion for determining recidivism is a
return to prison, it must be determined whether the return to prison was because of the
commission of a new offense or a technical violation of parole (such as consuming
liquor or being alone with a minor child). Otherwise, a technical violation could alter
the recidivism rate because it could include as recidivists individuals who may not
have committed a subsequent criminal offense.42
Many studies rely on official criminal justice system data to measure recidivism,
which presents problems because crimes of sexual assault are greatly underreported.
Also, researchers must determine the specific behaviors that qualify sex offenders as
recidivists. For example, will the commission of any crime be sufficient to qualify as
a recidivating offense or will only sex offenses be considered? If a sex offense
qualifies as a recidivating offense, then researchers must decide whether to include
felonies and misdemeanors. Answers to these kinds of questions affect the level of
recidivism reported in each study.43
CSOM Studies. CSOM reports that while the vast majority of sex offenders
are males, they are a heterogeneous group. They include persons who have engaged
in sex with children and family members, as well as those who have sexually assaulted
Department of Justice Justifications, Office of Justice Programs, FY2005, March 2004, p.
41 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Recidivism of Sex Offenders, Center
for .............Management, May, 2001, pp. 2-3. (Hereafter cited as CSOM, Recidivism
of Sex Offenders.)
43 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
strangers and have committed a wide range of inappropriate and criminal sexual
behaviors. To reduce confusing results of sex offender recidivism, CSOM states that
studies should recognize this heterogeneity and examine specific types of sex
The period in which a study monitors a group of sex offenders can also affect the
reported recidivism rate. Although, to ensure statistical integrity, all individuals in a
study should have the same length of time in a community and, consequently, the
same opportunity to commit subsequent offenses, often that is not the case. In
actuality, some individuals in a 10-year follow-up study may have been in the
community for eight or nine years, while others were out of prison for only two years.
To correct this problem, CSOM suggests that survival analysis should be used, which
is a methodology that considers the amount of time each subject has been in the
community, rather than a simple percentage. Many researchers believe that an ideal
follow-up period for recidivism studies is five years or more.45
From a public policy perspective, recidivism remains a valuable measure of how
various interventions with criminal offenders are performing.46 The noted caveats
regarding studies of sex offender recidivism notwithstanding, several notable efforts
have been made to provide a synthesis of studies of sex offender recidivism. One of
the techniques used to summarize the findings of multiple studies is meta-analysis.47
Using a meta-analysis approach has some advantages, in that it can reveal the relative
importance of a number of factors affecting recidivism across studies. Also, the
consistent appearance of certain offender and offense characteristics across different
studies allows an estimate of how strongly they relate to recidivism.
In a 1998 study (Hanson and Bussiere) that used the meta-analysis technique,
offender and offense characteristics were grouped by demographics, criminal lifestyle,
sexual criminal history, sexual deviancy, and some clinical characteristics.48 The study
found a consistent relationship between sexual offending and being young and single.
Sex offenders were likely to recidivate if they had a prior sex offense, had male
victims, victimized strangers (rather than family members), started sex offending as
juveniles and/or had engaged in diverse sex crimes.
A meta-analysis of 61 research studies found specific patterns of reoffending
across victim types and offender characteristics. The average sex offense recidivism
44 Ibid., p. 8.
45 Ibid., p. 4.
46 Ibid., p. 11.
47 Meta-analysis relies upon a quantitative approach to synthesizing research results from
similar studies. This technique involves more than just a simple grouping together of
disparate studies to obtain average effects. Rather, it entails a statistically sophisticated
approach to estimating the combined effects of various studies that meet certain
methodological criteria; CSOM, Recidivism of Sex Offenders, p. 11.
48 R. Hanson and M. Bussiere, “Predicting Relapse: A Meta-Analysis of Sexual .........
Recidivism Studies,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 66 (1998), pp.
rate (based on rearrest or reconviction criteria) was 18.9% for rapists and 12.7% for
child molesters over a four- to five-year period. For the same period, the recidivism
rate for nonsexual violent offenses was 22.1% for rapists and 9.9% for child
molesters, while the recidivism rate for any reoffense for rapists was 46.2% and 36.9%
for child molesters. Overall, this analysis revealed that the factors with the strongest
relationship to sexual offense recidivism were sexual interest in children, deviant
sexual preferences, and sexual interest in boys. The study found that having general
psychological problems was unrelated to sexual offense recidivism, but that having
a personality disorder was related. Another finding was that failure to complete
treatment was a moderate predictor of sexual offense recidivism. The study also
found that being sexually abused as a child was unrelated to sexual offense recidivism.
Knowledge of these historical or static factors helps to predict the relative likelihood
Studies that take into account changes over time (dynamic factors) can inform
about the most useful types of interventions in lowering the risk of recidivism.
Another five-year study conducted in 1998 (Hanson and Harris) focused on dynamic
factors.50 This study collected data on over 400 sex offenders under community
supervision, of whom about half were recidivists who had committed a new sexual
offense during the five-year follow-up period. The study revealed a number of
significant differences in dynamic factors between recidivists and non-recidivists. For
instance, employment status and drug habit of a sex offender were found to play a role
in recidivism. Recidivists were more likely to be unemployed (especially rapists) and
to have substance abuse problems. Non-recidivists were likely to have positive social
influences but tended to have intimacy problems. Attitudinal differences between
recidivists and non-recidivists also were identified. The recidivists in the study who
had committed subsequent sex offenses tended to be less remorseful or concerned
about the victim. They were less likely to acknowledge that they were likely to
reoffend and were less likely to avoid high-risk situations. In this study, recidivists
were more likely to report engaging in deviant sexual activities. Compared to non-
recidivists, the lifestyle of recidivists tended to be more chaotic and antisocial.51
Bureau of Justice Statistics Study. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
conducted a study involving 9,691 male sex offenders among 272,111 prisoners
released from prisons in 15 states in 1994. For three years after their release, the sex
offenders were tracked. BJS published a report documenting the recidivism rate of
these sex offenders as determined by rates of rearrest, reconviction, and
reimprisonment during the three-year followup period (see Table 1). The report
provides recidivism rates for four overlapping categories: 3,115 released rapists;
49 CSOM, Recidivism of Sex Offenders, pp. 11-12.
50 R. Hanson and A. Harris, Dynamic Predictors of Sexual Recidivism (Ottawa: Solicitor
General of Canada, 1998).
51 CSOM, Recidivism of Sex Offenders, pp. 12-13.
6,576 released sexual assaulters; 4,295 released child molesters;52 and 443 released
statutory rapists. Following are the highlights of the survey findings by category.53
Rearrest for a New Sex Crime.
!Within three years of release from prison in 1994, 5.3% of the sex
offenders were rearrested for a sex crime compared to 1.3% of non-
!Of sex crimes committed by sex offenders within three years of
release from prison, 40% of the sex crimes were allegedly committed
within the first 12 months.
!The oldest sex offenders (age 45 or older) had the lowest rate of
rearrest for a sex crime (3.3%).
!The more prior arrests sex offenders had for different crimes, the
greater likelihood of their being rearrested for another sex crime after
release from prison. Released sex offenders who had only been
arrested once (for the sex crime for which they were imprisoned) had
the lowest rearrest rate for a sex crime, about 3%; those with two or
three prior arrests, 6%; seven to 10 prior arrests, 7%; and 11 to 15
prior arrests, 8%.
!No clear association was shown between the lengths of prison terms
served by sex offenders and their recidivism rate.
Rearrest for a Sex Crime Against a.Child.
!The released child molesters were more likely to be rearrested for
child molestation compared to the entire group of sex offenders and
to the non-sex offenders released from prison. Within the first three
years of release from prison in 1994, 3.3% of released child molesters
were rearrested for child molestation. The rate of rearrest for a sex
crime against a.child for all sex offenders (a category that also
includes child molesters) was 2.2%, while the rate for all non-sex
offenders was less than half of 1%.
!Released child molesters with more than one prior arrest for child
molestation were more likely to be rearrested for the same crime
(7.3%) than those with only one such prior arrest (2.4%).
Rearrest for Any Type of Crime.
!Compared to non-sex offenders who were released from prison, the
overall rearrest rate for sex offenders was lower. When rearrests for
all types of crimes were counted, 43% of the sex offenders who were
released were rearrested, while the rearrest rate of the non-sex
offenders who were released was higher at 68%.
52 Sixty percent of the children molested by these individuals were age 13 or younger.
53 Patrick A. Langan et al., U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994 (Washington, 2003), pp. 1-2.
Reconviction for a New Sex Crime.
!Of released sex offenders, 3.5% were reconvicted for a sex crime
within the three-year follow-up period of the study.
Reconviction for Any Type of Crime.
!Of released sex offenders, 24% were reconvicted for a new offense;
the new offense included all types of crimes.
Returned to Prison for Any Reason.
!Within the three-year follow-up period of the study, 38.6% of the
released sex offenders returned to prison either because they were
sentenced again for a new crime or because of a technical violation
of their parole (failing a drug test or missing an appointment with
their parole officer).
Table 1. Recidivism Rate of Sex Offenders Released
from Prison in 1994, by Recidivism Measure
and Type of S............
Within three years following release:
Rearrested for any type of crime43.046.041.5
Reconvicted for any type of crimea24.027.322.4
Returned to prison with a new sentence forb
any type of crime11.212.610.5
Returned to prison with or without a newc
sentence 38.6 43.6 36.1
Source: Patrick A. Langan et al., U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Recidivism
of S....ffenders Released from Prison in 1994 (Washington, November 2003), table 7, p. 13.
Note: The 9,691 sex offenders were released in 15 states.
a. Because of missing data, prisoners released in Ohio were excluded from the calculation of percent
b. “New prison sentence” includes new sentences to state or federal prisons but not to local jails.
Because of missing data, prisoners released in Ohio and Virginia were excluded from the
calculation of percent returned to prison with a new sentence.
c. “With or without a new sentence” includes prisoners with new sentences to state or federal prisons
plus prisoners returned for technical violations. Because of missing data, prisoners released in
six states (Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) were excluded from
the calculation of percent returned to prison with or without a new sentence. New York state
custody records did not always distinguish prison returns from jail returns. Consequently, some
persons received in New York jails were probably mistakenly classified as prison returns. Also,
California with a relatively high return-to-prison rate affects the overall rate of 38.6%. When
California is excluded, the return-to-prison rate falls to 27.9%.