Monday, August 11, 2014 Series: Sex Offender Laws Have Gone Too Far By Matt Mellema, Chanakya Sethi and Jane Shim

Sex Offender Laws Have Gone Too Far
Our draconian policies about sex offenses reflect our ignorance of them.
By Matt Mellema, Chanakya Sethi and Jane Shim        August 11, 2014

On Oct. 22, 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped while biking home from a convenience store. A masked gunman approached him, his brother, and a friend, and ordered the three boys off their bikes. After demanding to know their ages, he ordered Jacob’s brother and the friend to run into some nearby woods and threatened to shoot them if they looked back. The boys ran. By the time they turned around to see what had happened to Jacob, he was gone. Nearly 25 years later, Jacob remains missing, and the identity of his kidnapper is unknown. 

“I was a stay-at-home mom,” Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, recalled over the phone last month. “I knew a lot about parenting, but I knew nothing about sexual abuse of children.” Determined to educate herself, Wetterling became “a sponge, trying to learn anything about this problem.” Soon, one thing stood out: Minnesota, where Jacob had been kidnapped, did not have a database that might help the police identify a list of potential suspects. Other states, such as California, had been keeping sex offender registries for decades. Wetterling also learned that Congress had never tried to craft a national approach to sex offender registration. She was determined to change that. 

The result of her efforts was the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Jacob’s Law used federal dollars to push every state to create a registry. It worked. Today, all 50 states and Washington, D.C., have them. Since then, Congress has also passed several related pieces of legislation, including two major statutes. Megan’s Law, enacted in 1996, required that the police give the public access to some sex offender registry data, such as an offender’s name, photograph, and address. In 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act toughened the standards for who must register and for how long, and it upped the consequences of registration by requiring, for example, periodic in-person visits to police. 

2014 Report: U.S. Marshal’s Service (USMS) National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC)

A reader of this blog sent me a link to a FOIA request/report today that has some interesting tid-bits so I decided to share it here.  

It comes from a website ( that updates every Monday morning that posts a lot of FOIA requests. He hasn’t seen any “Sex Offender” documents so when he saw this one he decided to share it.

I have read through it and most of it is basically a promotion/commercial for the Adam Walsh Act (AWA)/SORNA, the SMART Office and the U.S. Marshal’s Service (USMS) National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC), listing all of their programs, initiatives, training, funding, arrests, prosecutions and over all accomplishments against unregistered and traveling Sex Offenders. 

But I did take away a few new pieces of information: 

Page 2:

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is the lead federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating sex offender registration violations and related offenses under AWA, including violations ofl8 U.S.C. § 2250. 

       The USMS has three distinct missions pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act:
1.      Assisting state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of non-compliant sex offenders;
2.     Investigating violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2250 and related offenses; and
3.     Assisting in the identification and location of sex offenders relocated as a result of a major disaster. 

To assist with the above missions under AWA, USMS established the National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC) in September 2009