New AG : Open to Adam Walsh Act Changes

March 10, 2009 AGs optimistic on better state-fed relations.

For more than a year, state attorneys general and other law enforcement officials have struggled with aspects of the Adam Walsh Act, a 2006 federal law that requires states to adopt the same standards for registering and tracking sex offenders by July — or risk losing millions of dollars in Justice Department grants.

Although state officials agree with the aim of the Adam Walsh Act, they say they lack the resources to meet its many demands, which include classifying all sex offenders’ levels of risk and standardizing what information they include in their online registries. Some states also have balked at a requirement that they register and track some juveniles as young as 14.

During his remarks to the attorneys general March 2, Holder acknowledged state officials’ problems with the law, promising that the federal government “is committed to working with the states to make the Adam Walsh Act requirements as flexible as we can,” although he did not address specific concerns.

Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett (R) said he felt encouraged by Holder’s comments.
“We’re hopeful that they’ll take a flexible approach on Adam Walsh, and I suspect I speak for all (attorneys general) in that regard,” Bennett said.

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