Last week, I wrote about Pennsylvania becoming the 16th state to comply with the Adam Walsh Act. The act was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking sex offenders that would link all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal lands.
All states were to comply by July 27, 2011 in order to prevent the federal government form instituting a annual 10 percent penalty on their Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Byrne (JAG) award.
Today we learn why complying with the Adam Walsh Act may be more costly than not complying. California is sticking with its own first-in-the-nation sex offender registry instead of complying with a 2006 federal law that sought to create a seamless 50-state tracking program. California stands to lose nearly $800,000 in grant money this year.
However, the California Sex Offender Management Board, which advises the governor and Legislature, estimated in 2008 that it would cost the state at least $32 million to comply with the federal law, not including the cost of incarcerating offenders who failed to comply with the new federal registration regulations.
Pennsylvania stands to lose substantially more than it receives in Byrne grant money. I wrote in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly last fall that states like Ohio had incurred enormous costs in defending law suites as a result of the new law.
The bulk of the cost in California, about $25 million, would have been for local law enforcement agencies to assess and more frequently re-assess offenders' risk of committing new crimes to meet the federal requirements, the board projected.
"California should absorb the comparatively small loss of federal funds that would result from not accepting the very costly and ill-advised changes to state law and policy required by the (federal) Act," the board said in its 2008 report.
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nebraska and Texas will instead forfeit 10 percent of the law-enforcement funding made available through the Justice Department.
In Texas, a Senate committee conducted two years of hearings and recommended that the state disregard the law, citing concerns about juvenile offenders and other new mandates. The committee's report acknowledged the loss of an estimated $1.4 million. But that figure paled when compared with the cost to implement the changes, which could have exceeded $38 million.
The Arizona Legislature drew a similar conclusion, rejecting the law in 2009 after a committee determined it would cost about $2 million to fulfill all requirements -- far more than the estimated $146,700 in grants that would be withdrawn.
To read more: http://www.dailydemocrat.com/ci_21705213/calif-stays-own-sex-offender-registry
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