Federal Standards for Community Registration of Juvenile Sex Offenders: An Evaluation of Risk Prediction and Future Implications


The enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in 2006 is an extension of current protective legislation aimed at establishing stricter sanctions for community-released sexual offenders. What largely separates the Adam Walsh Act from previous registration and notification laws is the crossing of traditional jurisdictional boundaries between adult and juvenile courts at the federal level. This article addresses several key concerns relating to the application of these federal standards to adolescent offenders. In addition to a review of the extant literature, we present findings from an exploratory evaluation that examines the ability of the Adam Walsh Act's classification system to predict future offending among a sample of 112 adjudicated juvenile sex offenders over a 2-year outcome period. Results indicate that offenders who met criteria for registration did not reoffend (sexually or nonsexually) at a significantly higher rate than those who did not meet registration criteria. Implications regarding appropriate risk assessment and management of youth sexual offenders are discussed. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

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Psychology, Public Policy, and Law