Sunday, December 7, 2008

States Have A Choice in AWA Implementation

Maryland Daily Record: Federal law ties funds to tougher state restrictions.

States have a choice: They can fall in line with a federal sex offender law by enacting broad new restrictions on offenders by next summer, or risk losing federal anti-crime money. (Implementation costs are many times greater than the amount of funds states would lose in refusing to adopt these Adam Walsh Act laws - see our post : "Costs to States" for statistics )

Offenders and their lawyers say the government is improperly using the law, the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, to impose restrictions on offenders convicted years ago. “The big problem we’re having here is people are being prosecuted for federal failure to register when SORNA hasn’t even been implemented in states,” said Paresh S. Patel, an assistant federal public defender in Greenbelt.

Federal defenders across the country are challenging SORNA on many grounds.
SORNA expands the number of people required to register, increases the information governments must collect about registrants and the information they can disclose to the public, and toughens penalties for failing to register.

Under the terms of the law, states must pass SORNA-compliant laws before July 27, 2009, or lose 10 percent of their funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.
Maryland received $2.2 million in Byrne money in the 2008 fiscal year.
Patel said not a single state is complying yet.