Monday, June 29, 2009

No State in Compliance with Adam Walsh : No State in Compliance with Adam Walsh Act as July Deadline Approaches.

Over-generalization within each Tier and not evaluating each individual's risk of re-offending have created this drastic change in numbers. For example, "Sexual Battery" is a Tier III offense. In the Ohio Revised Code, 2907.03-Sexual Battery comprises 12 different types of acts, some specifically involving children, some not necessarily so. As in the case of Tammy Welton, mentioned above, she was most likely guilty of violating Section 2907.03 (A)(11) "(A) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (11) The other person is confined in a detention facility, and the offender is an employee of that detention facility." But ORC 2907.03 also includes sexual offenses against a child by a parent or guardian (A)(5). No bearing is placed on consensual versus non-consensual sexual acts.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) also has concerns about the Adam Walsh Act. Their stance is that "... over-inclusive public notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk of re-offense. Therefore, NAESV believes that internet disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offense."

What Can Be Done
The government approved the Adam Walsh Act and put laws into place quickly, without evaluating the consequences. Yes, we need protection for our children against sexual offenders, especially those of a predatory nature. The Adam Walsh Act is a start, but should be modified to control the appropriate offenders and reduce some of the increased, unnecessary burdens it created. Some things for lawmakers to consider when recreating the Adam Walsh Act include:

-Add more Tiers to the present three Tier system to account for lower level sex offenders and those who pose less risk to society, and to have the grouping of offenses within each tier more similar

-Differentiate between sex offenders with adult victims and with child victims

-If a person has completed their punishment for a sex-related offense and commits a new offense, consideration must be given to the likelihood of them committing another sexual offense before giving them a second punishment for a crime they already paid for

-Juvenile aspects should be reworked to avoid possible permanent trauma to non-violent low-risk teenage sex offenders

-Each individual's circumstance should be evaluated and the risk of re-offending taken into account before classification into a Tier

-On previously sentenced cases (still completing their sentences), plea bargains should be examined so as not to nullify the validity of the contract.