Grassley Bill to Aid States, Public in Tracking Sex Offenders Advances to Full Senate
Bill Establishes New Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking Offenses
WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today reported to the full Senate Chairman Chuck Grassley’s legislation to assist states in preventing future abuses by registered sex offenders. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act Reauthorization, which Grassley introduced last month, helps to improve tracking of sex offenders through federal support of state registries and dedicated resources to target offenders who fail to comply with registration requirements. It cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously.
“Years ago, Congress recognized the need for a unified approach to sharing information on the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders in our communities. Today, a decade after Congress first passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee has reaffirmed the value and importance of sex offender registries and our duty to ensure law enforcement has the resources they need to keep our communities safe from known offenders. The Senate should move swiftly to reauthorize this important community safety program,” Grassley said.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 established nationwide notification and registration standards for convicted sex offenders to bolster information sharing between law enforcement agencies and increase public safety through greater awareness. The bill that the committee approved today reauthorizes key programs in the 2006 act to help states meet the national standards and locate offenders who fail to properly register or periodically update their information as the law requires.
Specifically, Grassley’s bill reauthorizes the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program, a federal grant program that assists state and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to improve sex offender registry systems and information sharing capabilities. The bill also extends the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program, which authorizes federal grants to states and localities for the purpose of periodically verifying the home addresses of registered sex offenders. Finally, the bill authorizes resources for the U.S. Marshals Service to aid state and local law enforcement in the location and apprehension of sex offenders who fail to comply with registration requirements.
During committee debate, a Grassley amendment was adopted that would establish new rights for survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking offenses under the federal criminal code. This amendment ensures that rape victims can immediately obtain a forensic exam, without charge, and that they will be informed of forensic testing results, following a federal crime of sexual violence. It also requires that a rape victim’s medical exam kit must be preserved until the expiration of the statutory period in which the perpetrator can be brought to justice. It would authorize Justice Department grants to states that ensure that sexual violence survivors are notified of their legal rights at the state and local level. It also calls for the creation of a federal working group to develop best practices relating to the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors as well as the preservation of evidence in sexual violence cases. Finally, the Grassley amendment, which was developed with the input of victim advocates and other senators, would extend the statutory period in which many child survivors of human trafficking offenses can file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is named for a six-year-old Florida boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. Adam’s father, John Walsh, worked closely with Congress to develop the 2006 law and this reauthorization bill. Cosponsors of Grassley’s bill include senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.). The bill is also supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Legislative text of the bill, as amended, is available HERE.