Aug 03 2006

Shelby vows to get millions to fight sex predators

The Montgomery Advertiser

By Ana Radelat

States like Alabama would be able to apply for grants to fight sex offenders who victimize children with millions of dollars Sen. Richard Shelby vowed to secure from Congress.

Flanked by John Walsh, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Shelby on Wednesday said he would seek $55 million for a new grant program that would allow states to create specialized law enforcement units that focus on sexual predators.

In addition, Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, also promised to win approval of millions more to implement the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, a new law aimed at fighting the exploitation of children, which was signed into law by President Bush last week.

"This funding will allow us to target the 100,000 unregistered sex offenders in the United States and bring them to justice," Shelby said.

The whereabouts of 100,000 to 150,000 of the nation's 550,000 sex offenders are unknown. The Adam Walsh Act requires that all sex offenders register their addresses with local law enforcement agencies. It also creates a national registry of offenders that would be available on the Internet.

Named after John Walsh's son, who was abducted and killed 25 years ago, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, also imposes stricter prison sentences for offenders who fail to register.

An offender who knowingly does not register and moves to a new state can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The legislation also requires some sex offenders to wear tracking devices.

Shelby, chairman of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Justice Department's budget, said he included the money for the child protection programs in a bill that would fund the agency next year.