06.02.09

Leahy Applauds Extension For State Compliance With Sex Offender Registration And Notification Act

Tuesday applauded the Justice Department’s decision to give a one-year extension to states and other jurisdictions struggling to comply with the provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).  The Act was included as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2006, and required states to comply with the provisions by July of this year.

In March, Leahy and other congressional leaders urged Attorney General Eric Holder to extend the deadline for compliance.  Under the provisions of SORNA, states and other jurisdictions are required to comply with certain sex offender registry provisions within three years of the passage of the Adam Walsh Act.  To date, no state or jurisdiction has met the requirements mandated in SORNA.  The registry and notification program is costly to states that are facing mounting funding concerns amid the economic downturn.

“Everyone wants to strengthen the tools and resources available to law enforcement to protect our children,” said Leahy.  “Vermont and other states across the country are working to comply with the important provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.  This much-needed extension will provide needed time to meet those requirements.”

Under SORNA, states and other jurisdictions are directed to comply with certain sex offender registry provisions within three years the Act becoming law.  States have faced signification costs and unforeseen difficulties in implementing the law. Without the extension granted by the Department of Justice, jurisdictions found to not be in compliance would have faced financial penalties.  Champions of the Act, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, support the extension, which will help states succeed in implementing the important protections mandated in this law.

Leahy and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) joined with Congressmen John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in March to press for the extension.

“Granting such an extension would allow states and other jurisdictions time to strengthen and improve existing laws and sex offender registries consistent with SORNA,” the Members wrote.

The 2006 law permits the Attorney General to grant up to two one-year extensions of the deadline.  The proposal approved by the Attorney General is the first one-year extension.

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