By Shelly Stowe . . . Mr. Grassley, like you, we grieve with families of children who are victimized and abused, and we especially grieve that virtually all of this type of crime is committed by the family members and others close to their young victims. Like you, we would like to see a strong commitment to keeping our nation’s children safe.
Unlike you, however, we have seen no evidence of this commitment for the past twenty-five years. Such a commitment must be based on solid research, on facts and evidence, and on the reality of both child sexual abuse and of those who are the abusers.
The Adam Walsh Act is ill-conceived legislation,contraindicated by empirical evidence, which fails to address the crime of child sexual abuse because it does not target those who commit child sexual abuse.
The rhetoric and the reality of the AWA are light years apart. The rhetoric says the AWA “was enacted in response to multiple, notorious cases involving children who had been targeted by adult criminals, many of them repeat sex offenders.” The reality is that the cases that drove the legislation are the rarest of rare crimes. They are crimes of murder. They are crimes that would not have been prevented by the AWA or by a thousand sex offender registries.
The reality is that the crime that set John Walsh upon his crusade, the murder of his son, was not committed by a person on the sex offender registry at all.
The reality is that the 800,000 persons on sex offender registries across the nation — ranging in age, according to the various registries, from nine years old to well over a hundred – have not killed anyone. The reality is that the vast majority of them are not repeat offenders but one-time offenders who, after completion of their sentences, live in our communities without ever committing another offense.
The reality is that the many, many millions of dollars and many millions of law-enforcement hours expended in public notification and public registration of those who have committed sexual crimes do not advance public safety. A huge and growing body of evidence attests that they do not affect the rate of first time sexual offenses, of repeat offenses, or of child sexual offenses.
And so we grieve also, Mr. Grassley. (Please read the rest of what we grieve at With Justice for All)