Sex Offender Registries

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. Department of Justice, started the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) Assistance Program in the late 1990s to help States comply with Federal sex offender registration and community notification laws.

SEARCH partnered with BJS in this effort by cosponsoring a national conference to help States comply with three Federal statutes that collectively required States to establish registration programs to alert local law enforcement to the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders released from incarceration into their jurisdictions (and also of those required to register whose sentences did not include incarceration), and notification programs to warn the public about sex offenders living in the community.

The conference provided critical guidance and clarification to States, and also identified problems and issues subsequently addressed in Federal legislation and regulations. The conference proceedings document the effort to provide tools to the States to support effective registration and notification programs, and to provide a forum where States could exchange ideas and compare experiences.

SEARCH's participation illustrates its ongoing commitment to provide assistance, support and advice to national initiatives with challenging legal and policy issues.

The Adam Walsh Act, signed into law in 2006, significantly expanded efforts to monitor sex offenders in the community and establishes financial penalties for States that do not meet deadlines to comply with its provisions. SEARCH hosted a workshop the following year to help Indian tribes in Michigan comply with the act's requirements.

SEARCH's continued work with the Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center and a half-dozen Michigan Tribes resulted in a 2009 draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that Tribes could use to comply with certain Walsh Act requirements. Several Michigan Tribes have approved the MOA and have returned signed copies to MSP.

SEARCH continues its support sex offender monitoring efforts by maintaining links to State sex offender registry websites and access to background information and statutes; by providing tailored assistance on sex offender registry and notification issues; and by addressing ongoing sex offender registry issues at its Membership Group Meetings.

SEARCH also continues to survey States' compliance with sex offender registry and notification requirements.

Some of our NICS and background check system resources are as follows: