December 24, 2012

Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders Urge Massachusetts Not to Adopt Federal Adam Walsh Act

12-24-2012 Massachusetts:

USA FAIR, Inc., a national advocacy organization formed by the family members of people required to register with the sex offender registry, today urged the Massachusetts State Legislature not to act on Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to bring the state into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA).

“Many enlightened states, including New York and California, have looked at AWA and rejected it on the basis of sound principles of sex offender management and Massachusetts should continue to do likewise,” said Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA FAIR.

“USA FAIR is very concerned that in the wake of the heinous criminal charges recently brought against John Burbine that Massachusetts will allow emotion to trump reason and cause the state to adopt legislation that is not supported by volumes of research on sex offender recidivism.  The unfortunate history of sex offender legislation in the United States has been to react to rare high profile crimes, while ignoring the fact that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the entire criminal justice system,” said Rowan.

Rowan continued, “If Mr. Burbine is found guilty of these horrific crimes then the full force of the law should be brought down upon him. However, the thousands of law-abiding former offenders who live in Massachusetts and are just focusing on rebuilding their lives as good citizens and providers for their families should not be punished for his acts by having new sanctions imposed upon them.  Punish the offender, not the entire offender group.”

Rowan continued, “USA FAIR opposes states adopting the Adam Walsh Act for numerous reasons including its discarding of assigning risk levels based on scientific risk assessments in favor of a conviction based tier system.  It makes no sense assigning risks based on the conviction, because research has shown that the people who commit the same crime do not pose the same risk of reoffending.  The crime is only one of many offender and victim characteristics that need to be evaluated.  This is one of the major reasons why the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), the nation’s largest association representing sex offender treatment professionals, also opposes AWA.” (

Rowan cited a recently published November 2012 study conducted in four states (Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota and North Carolina) that found an overall sex crime recidivism rate of ...continued... by Shana Rowan

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