History of the Sex Offender Registry

History of the Sex Offender Registry

The state of Minnesota set the ball rolling on the sex offender registry as we know it now. Prior to 1991, law enforcement did not have an organized, compiled list of sex offenders. So when 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and a search for him was launched, law enforcement did not have a comprehensive list of sex offenders or their locations to work with to help them with their investigation.

Jacob Wetterling has never been found, but hopefully with the legislation passed in his name, other children can be saved.

(1991) Minnesota s Sex Offender Registration Act

When Jacob Wetterling was abducted in 1989 a massive search was conducted and numerous leads were generated and logged. These leads became the foundation of a massive database that instigated the development of a sex offender list in Minnesota.

(1994) Missing Child Response Act

According to the Jacob Wetterling Foundation Web site this act, required the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to assist any law enforcement agency; directed the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to develop a model policy; directed each police chief and sheriff to have a written policy; required pre-trial bail evaluations for suspects detained for violent crimes; required those suspects to surrender any firearms; required an integrated electronic communication network for crime prevention information between state agencies, law enforcement and the private sector.

(1994) Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (Federal 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill)

This federal law requires every state to create a program for registering sex offenders and to execute the construction of a sex offender and crimes against children registry.

(1996) Megan s Law

This amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Act was inspired by the death of 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered by a neighbor who was a convicted pedophile in 1994. This amendment requires the release of relevant offender information or a Community Notification System.

(1996) Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act

This is also an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Act. This act was named in honor of Pam Lychner, a real estate agent who was brutally assaulted while showing a home to who she thought was a potential buyer. This act allows the FBI to compile a national database of names and addresses of sex offenders released from prison. It also requires lifetime registration for re-offenders and for those that have been convicted of various aggravated offenses.

(1997) Jacob Wetterling Improvements Act

This act required heightened registration requirements for several groups, participation in the National Sex Offender Registry and requires each state to developed laws to prohibit the stalking of juveniles.

The groups that experience heightened registration requirements because of this law include:

  • Members of the armed forces convicted in any court

  • Offenders attending school or working in a state other than their home state

  • Sex offenders who have been convicted of a federal crime

  • Sexually violent offenders

(2000) Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act

The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act amends the Wetterling Act. It requires offenders who are attending an educational institution to register with the agency that has jurisdiction over that institution.

(2006) Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act

This act was passed on the 25th anniversary of the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh. The purpose of the act is to try to protect children from exploitation and violent crime. This includes child abuse prevention measures, as well as increased penalties for creation of or distribution of child pornography and the promotion of Internet safety for children.

Since 1991 and the first registration program in Minnesota, the sex offender registry has expanded to become a national resource for law enforcement. In addition, citizens can also access information on high-risk offenders in their area. With the implementation of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act we should see more accurate and up-to-date registries and increased ability on the state s part to support the mandated requirements through federal support.

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(2006, July 27). Fact Sheet: The Adam Walsh Child Protection And Safety Act Of 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/07/20060727-7.html

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(n.d.). Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children And Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/what/02ajwactcontents.html

(n.d.). Jacob Wetterling Foundation. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.jwf.org/

SEARCH Group, Incorporated. (2000). SEARCH: Programs: Criminal History Policy: Sex Offender Registries. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.search.org/programs/policy/registries.asp

(n.d.). Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress). Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR04472:@@@L&summ2=m&

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