WASHINGTON—Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today released proposed National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification, as required by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
These proposed Guidelines detail the minimum national standards and offer key guidance to the states, the District of Columbia, territories, and federally recognized Indian tribes, as they implement their sex offender registration and notification policies. By providing an effective and comprehensive national system, the proposed Guidelines will strengthen law enforcement’s ability to track and monitor sex offenders. Complementing the release of the proposed Guidelines, the Attorney General also announced $25 million in assistance for communities to implement these proposed Guidelines and take other steps to guard against sex offenders.
“Too often, sex offenders continue to harm children even after a previous conviction,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “By establishing minimum national standards, these proposed Guidelines will assist all levels of government in working together to more effectively monitor sex offenders, and will equip parents to better protect their children from unwittingly interacting with sex offenders.”
Today’s announcement comes as the Department marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. Created in February 2006, the Project Safe Childhood Initiative was officially launched on May 17, 2006, and has led to a substantially increased number of prosecutions. Through the first six months of FY 2007, 757 defendants were sentenced to prison. If this pace continues, over 1,500 defendants will receive prison sentences this fiscal year — a 22 percent increase over FY 2006. In addition to increasing prosecutions, the Department has also participated in hundreds of outreach events nationwide in an effort to educate communities about the dangers of online predators and ways parents can help to protect their children.
Today’s proposed Guidelines will be yet another tool in the Department’s efforts to protect children against predators. Some form of sex offender registration and notification program presently exists in each state, the District of Columbia, and in some territories and Indian tribes. These proposed Guidelines, however, will dramatically enhance the effectiveness of those programs by making the information gathered immediately available to all jurisdictions and by ensuring that all jurisdictions have confidence that known sex offenders living in the United States have been subject to common, minimum registration requirements. To this end, the proposed Guidelines contain explanations and implementation strategies designed to help registration jurisdictions understand minimum standards for who must register, how long they must register, the type of information they must disclose, how frequently and under what circumstances they must update that information, and how these requirements should be enforced. As a general matter, these minimum national standards are only a starting point for the implementation of guidelines. Jurisdictions remain free to protect their children with more demanding registration and notification requirements.
The proposed Guidelines and a frequently asked questions sheet about them are now available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart/guidelines.htm. This posting will soon be announced in the Federal Register, and the public will have until Aug. 1, 2007, to comment on the proposed Guidelines. The Department urges all interested parties to consider the proposed Guidelines carefully and submit comments to assist in the release of final Guidelines. Comments may be submitted to GetSMART@usdoj.gov.
The Attorney General also announced that $25 million has been dedicated to assist states, territories, the District of Columbia, and tribal and local governments to implement the Adam Walsh Act. These funds will aid jurisdictions in monitoring and managing sex offenders and ensuring sex offenders’ compliance with today’s proposed Guidelines. The funds can be used, for example, for programs that will improve sex offender registries with new software, develop or enhance address verification capacity, improve juvenile sex offender treatment programs, or provide tribal assistance.
More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov.