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House Addresses Child Protection

Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act

On August 1, the House passed, by voice vote, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3796). The House Judiciary Committee advanced the measure on July 18 (see The Source, 7/20/12).

Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the legislation would authorize $20 million annually through FY2017 for the Sex Offender Management Assistance (SOMA) program and the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program. The bill also would authorize $46.2 million annually through FY2017 for federal grants to states to help locate and apprehend sex offenders who violate sex offender registry requirements. As amended, the measure would authorize $3 million annually through FY2017 for grants related to the treatment of juvenile sex offenders.

Under current law, states that fail to “substantially comply” with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248) lose ten percent of their federal grants from a separate grant program that helps pay for state and local policing efforts. As amended, the bill would shield local governments from such non-compliance penalties.

Juvenile tier III sex offenders would be required to maintain clean records for 15 years, instead of the 25 years required under current law, to qualify for a reduction in the period that the offender must comply with sex registry requirements.

Child Protection Act

On August 1, the House passed, by voice vote, the Child Protection Act (H.R. 6063). The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill on July 10 (see The Source, 7/13/12).

Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the legislation would increase the maximum penalty from 10 to 20 years for possession of child pornography involving children under the age of 12. The measure also would allow a federal court to issue a protective order if a minor victim or witness is being subjected to harassment or intimidation that is likely to deter the minor from testifying in court; violation of such a protective order would be punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.

The bill would authorize $300 million for a five-year renewal of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. Additionally, the cap on grant funds for ICAC training programs would be increased from $2 million to $4 million.

The U.S. Marshals would be granted administrative subpoena authority to investigate sex offenders who fail to comply with sex offender registry requirements. Subpoenas issued by the U.S. Marshals would not be subject to court approval.

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