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Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Legal Analysis

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Publication Date: April 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33967

Topic: Justice (Crime and criminals)
Social conditions (Sex)

Abstract:

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, (P.L. 109-248, H.R. 4472), emerged from Congress following the passage of separate bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 3132 and S. 1086 respectively). The act's provisions fall into four categories: a revised sex offender registration system, child and sex related amendments to federal criminal and procedure, child protective grant programs, and other initiatives designed to prevent and punish sex offenders and those who victimize children.

The sex offender registration provisions replace the Jacob Wetterling Act provisions with a statutory scheme under which states are required to modify their registration systems in accordance with federal requirements at the risk of losing 10% of their Byrne program law enforcement assistance funds. The act seeks to close gaps in the prior system, provide more information on a wider range of offenders, and make the information more readily available to the public and law enforcement officials.

In the area of federal criminal law and procedure, the act enlarges the kidnaping statute, increases the number of federal capital offenses, enhances the mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment and other penalties that attend various federal sex offenses, establishes a civil commitment procedure for federal sex offenders, authorizes random searches as a condition for sex offender probation and supervised release, outlaws Internet date drug trafficking, permits the victims of state crimes to participate in related federal habeas corpus proceedings, and eliminates the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses and crimes committed against children.

The act revives the authorization of appropriations under the Police Athletic Youth Enrichment Act among its other grant provisions and requires the establishment of a national child abuse registry among its other child safety initiatives.

This report is available in an abridged version, without footnotes and most citations to authority, as CRS Report RS22646, Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Sketch, by Charles Doyle.