Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adam Walsh Act Suppresses Juvenile Sex Prosecutions

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act would make teens 14 and older who are found delinquent of the most violent sex cases — forcible rape, sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse — register for 25 years.

Pennsylvania is supposed to pass its version of the Adam Walsh act by Dec. 31, and those working on the bill say they are hopeful they won’t need an extension, according to the Harrisburg Patriot News.
The idea that some teens would have to register is creating pushback.
District attorneys are noticing that juvenile court judges are holding back from certain rulings with the registry in mind, and defense attorneys are less amenable to plea deals for crimes that would require registration.
Meanwhile, every state in the country is supposed to pass versions of the Adam Walsh Act or give up certain funding. Already some major states, including New York and Texas, have told the Department of Justice that they don’t plan to comply, reported the Patriot News.

Just the anticipation of the consequences of the Adam Walsh act had an effect on the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania.
Between 2000 and 2004, the number of juvenile sex cases in Pennsylvania was about 1,100 a year. Between 2006 and 2010, the number hovered between 750 and 800. As of this month, there have been 508 cases, reported the Patriot News.
Once the Adam Walsh act was passed at the federal level, defense attorneys began to worry about losing that anonymity.
According to the Patriot News, the law has created the same drop in cases in Ohio. New York and Texas, in letters to the U.S. Department of Justice, said they have already decided to give up the federal funding and not comply with the Adam Walsh act. Texas called it “one-size-fits-all” legislation that would cost 30 times the amount of federal funds that will be withheld if the state doesn’t comply.
In California, the sex-offender management board wrote a letter urging the legislature to reject it.

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