Sex offenses are among the most egregious and frightening crimes committed by
criminal offenders. Since the early 1990s, increasingly strict legislation has been enacted to
track, monitor, apprehend, and punish sexual criminals. The Jacob Wetterling Act, passed by
the U.S. Congress in 1994, established requirements that sex offenders must register their
whereabouts with law enforcement agencies. In 1996, Megan’s Law allowed for the public
disclosure of registry information, and subsequent amendments to the Wetterling Act
required states to post information about convicted sex offenders on Internet websites. In
2006, the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) enhanced registration and notification requirements,
expanded the duration of registration time periods, and increased penalties for sex
offenders who fail to register. States are mandated to comply with federal guidelines or risk
losing federal funding. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
it is estimated that there are currently over 617,000 registered sex offenders in the United

AWA SORN summary


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