Six years ago, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act, aimed at setting up a uniform national registry to track known sex offenders as they move around the country. The law offers states federal funds to complete their part of the job, and 16 have secured Justice Department approval for doing it successfully. But most states have struggled to implement the law, and several have essentially abandoned efforts at compliance and left the federal money on the table.
States that did not implement their registries by July 27, 2011, face a 10 percent loss in federal justice assistance grants, which fund courts, crime labs, corrections and other law enforcement programs. The only way they can keep that money without meeting the deadline is to apply to use it for Adam Walsh Act compliance activities. Some 29 noncompliant states have agreed to do this.