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        The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006

 

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U.S. Marshals' Role in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act

 

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
(Public Law 109-248)

On July 27, 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248) was signed into law. The Act provides that the “Attorney General shall use the resources of Federal law enforcement, including the United States Marshals Service, to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate sex offender registration requirements”.

The new law also established a new federal crime (18 USC § 2250) which subjects sex offenders who knowingly fail to register (or to keep their registration current) to up to ten years imprisonment in the event that they travel in interstate or foreign commerce. Thus, in addition to assisting state, local, territorial, and tribal law
enforcement authorities in locating and apprehending unregistered sex offenders, the U.S. Marshals Service will also work with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the U.S. Attorneys Offices to investigate potential violations of 18 USC § 2250.

In furtherance of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the United States Marshals Service assists jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who fail to comply with their sex offender registration requirements, and serves as the lead agency responsible for investigating violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2250 and related offenses.

The U.S. Marshals Service performs three distinct missions pursuant to the Act:

  • Assisting state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of non-compliant sex offenders [42 U.S.C. § 16941] ;

  • Investigating violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2250 and related offenses [42 U.S.C. § 16941]; and

  • Assisting in the identification and location of sex offenders relocated as a result of a major disaster [42 U.S.C. § 16943].

The U.S. Marshals Service also continues to assist federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders.

To perform these duties effectively and to avoid duplication of effort, the U.S. Marshals Service works closely with its law enforcement counterparts, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) (also linked as http://www.missingkids.com/ )  and the DOJ Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office.

Program Management and Coordination

On August 14, 2006, the U.S. Marshals Service established its Sex Offender Apprehension Program (SOAP) and designated a program management office (the Sex Offender Investigations Branch) at U.S. Marshals Service Headquarters to direct and coordinate the implementation of the Act within the agency. The U.S. Marshals Service has also designated experienced criminal investigators to serve as sex offender investigations coordinators (SOICs) within all U.S. Marshals Service districts and Regional Fugitive Task Forces to spearhead implementation of the legislation, and to establish and maintain effective contacts with sex offender registration authorities, corrections officials, and other law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The U.S. Marshals Service is also coordinating with NCMEC to generate, analyze, and disseminate leads concerning non-compliant sex offenders.

The U.S. Marshals Service is well positioned to carry out its new responsibilities under the Act. Through its existing network of interagency fugitive task forces, U.S. Marshals Service personnel work alongside law enforcement officers from hundreds of other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies on a daily basis. In FY 2005 and 2006, these interagency efforts resulted in the execution of 9,614 warrants (4,268 in FY 2005 and 5,346 in FY 2006) for fugitives wanted for sexual assaults, sex offender registration violations, and other sex offenses. Through these interagency networks, the U.S. Marshals Service and its partners will be able to effectively identify, investigate, locate, and apprehend sex offenders who violate their registration requirements.

The U.S. Marshals Service is also coordinating its enforcement efforts with the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Predator, primarily through the Law Enforcement Support Center in Burlington, Vermont, to ensure that alien sex offenders arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service are referred to DHS for potential immigration proceedings.

The U.S. Marshals Service will also continue to coordinate its efforts with U.S. Attorneys and concerned federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies including Internet Crimes against Children Task Forces, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Interpol, U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other concerned agencies to share information and resources and to minimize duplication of effort.

Guidelines

Although the U.S. Marshals Service has not received any new resources to implement the legislation, the President’s proposed FY 2008 budget includes a request for fifty-four positions for the U.S. Marshals Service to carry out its new duties. To carry out its responsibilities in the interim, U.S. Marshals and Regional Fugitive Task Force Commanders have been authorized, subject to availability of resources, to establish and/or join specialized units or interagency task forces with a view towards identifying, investigating, locating, apprehending, and assisting in the prosecution of non-compliant sex offenders. Furthermore, U.S. Marshals Service interagency fugitive task forces have been directed to work closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement authorities to prioritize the location and apprehension of fugitive sex offenders.
 

Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking 

The Department of Justice Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) Office was authorized in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

The responsibilities of the SMART Office include providing states with guidance regarding the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, and providing technical assistance to the states, territories, Indian tribes, local governments, and to public and private organizations. The SMART Office also will track important legislative and legal developments related to sex offenders and administer grant programs related to the registration, notification, tracking and monitoring of sex offenders.

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