Senate approves Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act to protect children

The Senate approved bipartisan legislation on Monday to help protect children from violent criminals. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act Reauthorization, S. 2613, passed the Senate by a vote of 89-0 and was introduced by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 established a nationwide notification system and registration standards for convicted sex offenders to promote information sharing between federal, state and local agencies.

The bill was named for Adam Walsh, a six-year-old Florida boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. The boy’s father, John Walsh, worked with Congress on the original bill, as well as the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act.

The bill was named for Adam Walsh, a six-year-old Florida boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. The boy’s father, John Walsh, worked with Congress on the original bill, as well as the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act introduced by Grassley.

The original legislation’s funding expired several years ago. Grassley’s bill would reauthorize key programs and establish new rights for victims of sexual assault and human trafficking.

“Too many kids are falling prey to sexual predators,” Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “The names Johnny Gosch, Eugene Martin and Jetseta Gage bring heartbreak to Iowans. And too many people have had to cope with the physical and emotional trauma of a sexual assault. I introduced this legislation to help prevent future tragedies and ensure that victims have a good shot at justice. (Monday’s) vote in the Senate reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of those who have experienced a sexual assault while helping communities across America work together to guard against future atrocities.”

Under the bill, victims of federal sexual violence crimes could not be denied or charged for forensic exams, and sexual assault evidence kits would have to be preserved without charge for at least 20 years.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that keeping Americans safe is his number one priority.

“Unfortunately, there are dangerous individuals living in our communities who seek to prey on the most vulnerable,” Burr said. “Reauthorizing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act sends a clear message that the Senate is working for the American people. This legislation, which continues the National Sex Offender Registry, ensures that law enforcement agents have the tools they need to keep track of the depraved individuals who prey on children so that they do not have the opportunity to reoffend.”

The bill also reauthorizes the Sexual Offender Management Assistance Program and the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program. Both provide federal grants to assist state and local agencies in tracking sex offenders.

“Sexual assault is an unthinkable crime — one that we must do everything in our power to prevent,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said. “As a mother and grandmother, my vote for the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 was a no brainer. This legislation reauthorizes programs that are critical to helping states track sex offenders, securing justice for the victims of sexual assault, and preventing future abuses from occurring.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said that by increasing the amount of information shared between law enforcement agencies, future crimes can be prevented and victims can receive the justice they deserve.

“I am happy the Senate was able to come together to pass the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act, and I want to thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley for his tireless work to protect our children and our communities,” Tillis said.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) added that coordination and vigilant tracking of offenders is required to prevent sex crimes committed by known offenders.

“This bill will help to ensure that states and municipalities continue to have the federal support they need to successfully monitor offenders with a history of crimes against children,” Hoeven said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said that the bill would help ensure that state and local officials have tools to combat threats posed by sex offenders and violent criminals, and that it would strengthen communication.

“The Adam Walsh Reauthorization also includes provisions outlining the rights of those who survive sexual assault,” Portman said. “While I strongly support the overall goal affirming these rights, I remained concerned about one provision that would require a rape victim to make a written request to the government before the government is obligated to notify the victim that it intends to destroy a rape kit within the statute of limitations. I don’t support this policy precedent because it will place an additional burden on victims. I have raised this concern with the bill sponsors and I expect this provision to be removed before we send this important measure to the president for his signature.”

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