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Today all 50 states and the District of Columbia have them. Federal law now requires states to maintain sex offender registries and has limited state discretion regarding who must register, and for how long. 1b(a)(1)(iii), 609.345 (2006); Missouri, 589.400 R. The law authorized, but did not require, law enforcement officials to release to the public information on a registered sex offender when, in their discretion, they determined public notification about the registered sex offenders presence in the community was necessary to protect public safety. Ten years later, with the Adam Walsh Act of 2006, Congress again passed legislation increasing the categories of people that states were required to register as sex offenders and for how long they would have to do so. The Act also authorized a national registry that would incorporate the information from every state registry.
The Act defines a sex offense as a criminal offense that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another. For the first time, federal law under the Adam Walsh Act requires some juveniles to register (see Chapter VII, Sex Offender Laws and Child Offenders).
The Adam Walsh Act creates three tiers or levels of registrants, determined solely by the conviction offense, with Tier I crimes the least serious and Tier III crimes the most serious.
In 1994 the US Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, named after an 11-year-old boy who was abducted at gunpoint while riding his bike near his home. 272, § 35A; Michigan, MCLS § 28.723, 28.722, 750.520e; Minnesota, Minn.
Under the legislation, people convicted of sexual abuse of children or sexually violent crimes against adults were required to register their current addresses with local law enforcement for 10 years following their release into the community.
As a man convicted of rape in 1992 and released into his Idaho community in 2002 told Human Rights Watch, The police should know where I live. I have no problem going down to the police station to register.
Its the price I pay for what I did. But registration is not limited to offenders who pose a significant risk of committing another serious crime.