Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse speaks about the effects of juvenile sex offender registration on child well-being at the 2017 Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective symposium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
On May 22, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017. The House’s judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations worked to reauthorize the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the only federal law that requires states, tribes and other jurisdictions to register children who have committed sexual offenses.
By removing one paragraph from Section 111 in the Adam Walsh Act that broadens the definition of “sex offender” to include adjudicated juveniles, our elected leaders could have ended this wasteful and ineffective policy.
On May 3, 2017, the South Carolina State Supreme Court upheld lifetime sex offender registration for behavior committed as a child. The court made this finding despite a decade of scientific research that clearly and consistently points to the failure of juvenile registration policies to improve public safety in any way. That much of this literature was based on data from South Carolina only heightens the distance between this ruling and the countervailing scholarship.
Read the rest of this post at Psychology Today column, Prevention Now.
Recently our work at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse has been used to influence policy and elevate the national conversation about child abuse and neglect prevention through partnerships and meetings with high-level organizations committed to ending juvenile sex offender registration and preventing child sexual abuse.
The July 2016 report from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), an organization committed to state-based juvenile justice reform that advocates for policies and practices, cited our research on the damaging effects of juvenile sex offender registries and public notification policies. The report specifically noted our work studying the exceeding low, and declining, incidence of sexual reoffending by youth. Click here to read more.
Another concrete example of where our Center is having a national impact is with our involvement earlier this spring in a stakeholder round table meeting, “Changing the Conversation around Child Sexual Abuse and Neglect,” hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). This event brought together national and federal partners including high-level staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention; the American Psychological Association and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to discuss efforts to disseminate messages to prevent child sexual abuse and neglect. The report captured suggestions and recommendations for further action. Read the report here.
We will continue to be part of the national conversation around child sexual abuse prevention and look forward to joining with other like-minded organizations to lend our research and expertise in the prevention of child sexual abuse.
New Juvenile Registration and Notification Guidelines are Open for Comment at the Department of Justice
The public has been invited to submit comments regarding the proposed Department of Justice’s Supplemental Guidelines for Juvenile Registration Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
The proposed guideline clarifies how the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) will assess whether a jurisdiction has substantially implemented SORNA’s juvenile registration provisions.
However, the guideline does not affect substantial implementation of SORNA’s registration requirements for adults who sexually offend.
Comments are due by Friday, June 10, 2016.
We at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, and many other experts in the field, recommend that the SMART Office emphasize evidence-based treatment rather than registration and waiver as a way to manage youth who have sexually offended. Specifically we recommend the following revisions to the Proposed Supplemental Guidelines:
- Remove all requirements for the registration of youth adjudicated delinquent for sex offenses. Further, remove financial penalties for states and other jurisdictions when such penalties are based solely on the exclusion of adjudicated youth from registration requirements.
- Remove all language that implicitly or explicitly encourages or appears to encourage the waiver of juveniles to adult criminal court.
- Insert language that supports the provision of evidence-based treatment services to youth adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses and their caregivers.
To read our entire letter, please click here and view the PDF titled “Experts Respond to SORNA Proposed Guidelines."
You may also submit your own comments here by clicking the “Comment Now!” button at the top right of the page.