Sage Journals Online: Implementing the Adam Walsh Act’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Provisions: A Survey of the States (2010) -
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Andrew J. Harris, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Andrew_harris@uml.edu
Christopher Lobanov-Rostovsky, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
With the 2006 passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA), the United States Congress established a range of requirements for sex offender registration and notification (R&N) systems operated by states, tribal jurisdictions, and U.S. territories. In the years since the law’s passage, these congressional mandates have generated concern within some covered jurisdictions and among national organizations over matters such as the perceived undermining of jurisdictional autonomy, the variance between the law and emerging "best practices," and perceived threats to the viability of state-based sex offender management efforts. To examine these concerns, a national survey was conducted in the fall of 2008 to evaluate the consistency between AWA requirements and existing state policies and practices, and to assess state-based barriers to AWA implementation. The survey results identified several areas of inconsistency between AWA mandates and state practices, particularly those relating to inclusion of juveniles, classification methods, and retroactive application of R&N requirements. The study revealed the barriers to AWA implementation within many states to be multifaceted and complex, suggesting the potential need for a recalibration of federal policy governing registration and notification. Implications for the respective roles of federal and state governments in the shaping of sex offender policy are discussed.