Earlier this week, we began discussing federal oversight of sex offender registration and reporting. Generally, individuals convicted of certain sex crimes are required to tell state officials where they are residing and working. A change in address must be reported to the state. However, some offenders required to register fail to do so when they move to a new state. The federal government has stepped in to better ensure that offender reporting is treated consistently across all fifty states.
In doing so however, the federal government seems to have trampled on states’ rights and on the personal freedoms of offenders nationwide. The 2006 Adam Walsh Act required the 50 states to adopt and maintain their share of a national, uniform sex offender registry. The registry was designed to ensure consistency in reporting.
However, the cost of complying with this legislation has proven prohibitive for many cash-strapped states. In addition, many state legislatures have expressed concern that the registry is too broad and overreaching, given that it requires states to track all convicted offenders, regardless of whether or not their crimes were legally serious in nature. As a result of cost concerns and ethical objections, only 16 states are currently in full compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.
The federal government has an unquestionable interest in interstate matters. However, it seems to have stepped too far in mandating the uniform national sex offender registry. For the benefit of states’ rights and respect for personal freedom, the mandates in this act should be reexamined.
Source: Courier of Montgomery County, “Modify federal sex offender registry law to give states more flexibility,” Nov. 27, 2012