Deadline ahead: Is your state in compliance with sex offender registry requirements?
States and territories recently were given a one-year extension to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) as required by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. After July 2010, non-compliant states are expected to lose some federal funding. Some states have objected to the 2006 law, saying its requirements put inflexible demands on state budgets. How do states see the provisions now? (The Justice Policy Institute estimates state implementation costs here.)
Will identifying juvenile sexual offenders promote public safety?
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires that juveniles 14 and older who have been found guilty or "delinquent" of rape or attempted rape be listed on public registries. Noting that most juvenile offenders respond well to treatment and are unlikely to offend again, the Justice Policy Institute is among the groups raising questions about the new registry requirements. Will the registry make these adolescents less likely to commit future sex crimes?
What price greater safety?
Challenges abound when states aim to establish cost-effective, high-impact policies for keeping more children safe from sexual abuse. What's at work in your state? In "Sex-offender costs to skyrocket," Lee Rood of the Des Moines Register investigated the costs of an under-the-radar policy shift in Iowa: lifetime monitoring for released sex offenders. (See NCSL's summaries of various state policies here.)
What about the victims?
The Minnesota Sexual Violence Study, conducted by the state's department of health, details common costs associated with sexual crimes. Each child who was sexually abused was estimated to "cost" society $184,000, reflecting increased suffering, risk of suicide and direct expenses. The report concludes that stronger policies are needed to prevent, not only punish, sexual crimes.
Ripple effects on offenders' families
This isn’t a new story idea, but it remains important, say those who work with sex-offenders' families: Many policies, including residency restrictions, disrupt family life, should the offender try to return home, and some research suggests that stability helps ex-offenders stay out of trouble. How are families trying to rebuild after one member commits a sex crime?