CrimeWatch: Sex Offender Registration - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

CrimeWatch: Sex Offender Registration


Nearly four years after Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act, no state has complied yet with the tougher standards for registering sex offenders.

Texas got a one year extension last July and just got another year extension this month. In the past couple of years, the Austin Police Department's Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration or S.O.A.R. unit, has been making more compliance checks.

In 2008, they made more than 3200 compliance checks. That number increased in 2009 to more than 3900. And so far in 2010, detectives have made more than 3000 checks on sex offenders. But S.O.A.R. detectives are expected to see a drastic increase after the state of Texas complies with the Adam Walsh Act.

APD Sgt. Jon Herring said, "Registered sex offenders in Austin will be changing from having to come in once a year to more like 2 to 4 times a year so our in house visits will increase."

"It will effectively double the amount of appointments that we currently achieve on a yearly basis and that's going to be extremely difficult for a unit our size with three detectives and one administrator to be able to take that burden on," said Detective Mike Summers.

The unit keeps tabs on about 1300 sex offenders in Austin. The new federal law would create a national database of sex offenders and stricter guidelines for them to follow.

Detective Summers says they are ready to fall in line with the federal law, already asking sex offenders for their emails and other information not required right now.

The law is named after six-year-old, Adam Walsh, who was abducted and killed in 1981.

In 2008, a federal grant funded Operation P.R.I.S.M. That made it possible for detectives to monitor more sex offenders. That program was so successful that when the federal money ran out, the City of Austin gave the unit more money to continue the compliance checks in Operation Mini Prism.

Detective Summers, "The first year with the federal grant, personally I think I wrote over 90 warrants. This year alone I wrote one warrant with Mini P.R.I.S.M."

"All the things that we're doing is throwing them off their game so they don't know from day to day whose going to be knocking on their door."

That money is set to run out in September. But the S.O.A.R. unit plans to continue its vigilance, keeping track of sex offenders and ensuring the safety of the public.

Follow Jenni on Twitter@jennileefox7.

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