July 20, 2012

Following Mark Up on the 18th, the US House voted to pass the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012 (AWRA)

7-20-2012 Washington DC:

Folks may remember that on Wednesday the 18th the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Marked Up the Adam Walsh Re-authorization Act (AWRA) (HR 3796) -and- the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2012 (HR 6062).

As to AWRA certain amendments were presented which can be found HERE (under HR 3796) but only FOUR of them were approved and will become part of the full AWA (If the Senate also accepts them when they get the bill). The four accepted amendments were presented by Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, and are:

As best I interpret the four here is what each does:
1) Reduces the Grant money for "Juvenile sex offender treatment programs" (42 USC 3797-EE-1) from $10,000,000 to $2,979,000 for each fiscal year 2013 through 2017. I'd say that is NOT GOOD, but have no idea why a reduction is warranted.

2) Adds this new section making it MANDATORY to EXEMPT from the Public Registry "any information about a sex offender for whom the offense giving rise to the duty to register was an offense for which the offender was adjudicated delinquent (or otherwise convicted) as a juvenile." That sounds GOOD, apparently some states were still showing these juvenile sex offenders publicly.

3) Under section 634 "COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION OF SEX OFFENDER ISSUES" Congress wants to add a new report, in addition to the reports already listed. The NEW report "Not later than one year after the date of enactment of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2011 (AWRA), the National Institute of Justice shall submit to Congress a report on the public safety impact, recidivism, and collateral consequences of long-term registration of juvenile sex offenders, based on the information collected for the study under subsection (a) and any other information the National Institute of Justice determines necessary for such report."
Folks may remember I did address Section 634 in my Commentary "PART-III: Behind Closed Doors: The Adam Walsh Act Way, now the States are following?. This new report covering juveniles SOUNDS GOOD, but I do have a concern about interpreting "public safety impact." Will that be construed to INCLUDE "effects on the registrant and family, if any" and if not it should. Now because I see some other differences in the reporting between juveniles and adults, and not wanting to muddy the waters here, I will do a separate Commentary addressing those differences within a few days.
4) This one is odd, best explained by looking at this from the point when the state gets Byrne Grant Money. When states get funding through the Byrne Grant there is a statute (42 USC 3755) which tells them how to disburse the money to their local governments, and what portion the state keeps.

So this amendment is saying, if a state chooses NOT to come into compliance with SORNA, that the state "shall return to the Attorney General (for reallocation in accordance with subsection (c))" its Byrne Grant portion less what was already given to local governments. In essence Congress does not want to penalize local governments since local governments have no say in whether the state complies w/SORNA or not.
This is my best understanding of these amendments (links to the four are above). Any other interpretations are welcomed, please comment so other folks can see your comments.

So, right now is the time to act, and that means to contact your Senators in Washington DC. Tell them to vote NO on this bill. You can also contact them on Facebook, Twitter and every other site they have listed on their Home pages (see HERE to learn how).

For now have a great day and a better tomorrow.

PS: For a legal interpretation of these amendments see a lawyer, above is just my read of the amendments.

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