Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 1188).

Chairman Goodlatte: In preventing child victimization, Congress, working in tandem with law enforcement, has long recognized the importance of monitoring sex offenders.  In 1994, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. This legislation mandated that states track violent sex offenders and established guidelines for tracking those offenders.

Over the years, Congress continued its vigilance in monitoring sex offenders, which ultimately culminated in a comprehensive piece of legislation titled the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.  Among other things, the Adam Walsh Act established a national sex offender registry, provided for post-conviction civil commitment of certain sex offenders, eliminated the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses against children, and created an office at the Justice Department specifically designed to monitor sex offenders.  Today, I am proud to be here on the floor to champion the reauthorization of this landmark legislation.

H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, authorizes funds for the Department of Justice’s Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and for the great work the United States Marshals do in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders who do not comply with the law’s requirements.

H.R. 1188 also contains numerous measures to encourage more states and tribal jurisdictions to comply with the requirements of the federal system, in part by making changes to the law to address concerns some states have expressed. For instance, the bill lowers the duration of sex offender registration requirements for certain juveniles, and allows states to register juveniles adjudicated delinquent on a non-public system.  It also clarifies that only juveniles who commit violent sexual assaults should be placed on a state registry. The bill also permits alternative methods for in-person verification so that rural jurisdictions can verify location of offenders remotely, in most instances only requiring in-person verification once per year.

H.R. 1188 requires parole officers and pretrial services officers to stay informed of the conduct and provide supervision of sexually dangerous persons.  Moreover, the bill strengthens civil remedies for survivors of exploitation and trafficking by allowing individuals who were victims of exploitation or trafficking as juveniles to have 10 years after becoming an adult to file suit for a civil remedy.

Mr. Speaker, we must not forget why we are here.  In 1981, Adam Walsh, a 7-year-old boy, was abducted and brutally murdered in Hollywood, Florida. His death was devastating and, for many families, that kind of inconsolable pain would be incapacitating.  As a father and grandfather, I cannot even imagine it.

We are thankful for the work of the Walsh family, who have dedicated their lives to child advocacy and whose work is responsible for saving the lives of countless children.  I am also grateful to our colleague Mr. Sensenbrenner, the author of the original Adam Walsh Act, for introducing this reauthorization bill and for his own tireless advocacy on behalf of our nation’s children.

Mr. Speaker, Scripture reminds us that “children are a heritage from the Lord.”  I urge my colleagues to support this strong, bipartisan legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

For more on the House Judiciary Committee’s work to protect children, click here.