Umatilla Chair: Sovereignty loss under Adam Walsh
"The Adam Walsh Act needs to be amended – now.

The act was designed to make sex offender registration uniform across the United States. It contains many detailed and complex requirements. Those requirements are so stringent that to date no jurisdiction is compliant. While states only lose certain grant funds if they fail to comply, tribes lose their sovereignty. Urgent action is needed to extend the time tribes have to comply with the act’s mandates.

Without state or tribal input, the act was passed July 27, 2006. Nonetheless, section 127 required tribes to either comply with its complex mandates or lose jurisdiction to states. It further required tribes to pass resolutions expressing their intent to comply prior to July 27, 2007 to preserve tribal authority. Given the threat of losing sovereignty, 198 tribes opted to assert jurisdiction under the act by timely passing resolutions opting in.

The National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions calling on Congress to amend the act. Resolution 07-003 is a call for comprehensive amendments to strike provisions that would divest tribes of sovereign regulatory powers and to consult with tribal governments to determine how best to include tribal nations in the national sex offender registry. Resolution 08-028 is a more modest call for an extension of time and for technical amendments to clarify uncertain provisions and close gaps in the existing legislation. Neither request has been honored.

Tribes have been given until July 27 to “substantially comply” or lose their sovereign power to regulate sex offenders to states. That is only four months away. To date, no one is fully compliant with the act: no state, no tribe and no territory. Adding insult to injury, the United States Department of Justice has interpreted the act to permit the loss of tribal jurisdiction to non-compliant states. States, unlike tribes, only lose grant money for non-compliance. Furthermore, DOJ has interpreted substantial compliance as requiring full compliance. Whether Congress realizes it or not, by creating such a short time frame and stringent conditions, tribes have been set up for failure."

Get the Story:
Antone Minthorn: Indian country should push for Adam Walsh Act amendment (Indian Country Today 4/1)

Relevant Laws:
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act | Violence Against Women Act of 2005

Related Stories:
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Tribes, state share frustration on Adam Walsh Act (9/22)
Turtle Mountain Band to open sex offender office (9/16)
Jodi Rave: Tribes testify on Adam Walsh Act (7/18)
Senate Indian Affairs hearing on Adam Walsh Act (7/17)
Senate Indian Affairs hearing on Adam Walsh Act (7/11)
Cherokee Nation weighs Adam Walsh implementation (7/7)
Tribes reject state authority under Adam Walsh Act (5/15)
Leech Lake man sentenced over offender registry (4/28)
Montana tribes work on Adam Walsh compliance (4/4)
House passes bill to give tribes more time on Adam Walsh Act (7/24)
Reminder: Adam Walsh Act deadline approaching (7/10)
Tribes face deadline to join national sex offender registry (4/30)
Court allows state offender registry on reservations (3/23)
Opinion: Tribes and national sex offender registry (3/23)
NCAI 2007: Updates from winter session in Washington (02/27)
Minnesota tribes work with state to track offenders (08/02)
Editorial: State shouldn't fight tribal sovereignty (8/1)
Pawlenty wants jurisdiction ruling overturned (7/29)
State may seek agreements with tribes on registry (7/28)
Minnesota appeals court limits state jurisdiction (7/27)