The Adam Walsh Act: Protecting Tribal Children While Preventing State Encroachment into Indian Country/ Washington State Bar Association Indian Law Newsletter section


Last summer, the U.S. Congress passed the

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety

Act of 2006 (“Act”), P.L. 109-248,2 which

made significant changes to sexual predatory

crimes1 and established a nation-wide

sex offender registry and notification system.3 Despite the

well-intentioned goals of protecting all children in our

country from sexual exploitation, the law was passed

without any notice to or consultation with Indian tribes.4

Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that such a law

does not respect tribal sovereignty.

Still, to the astonishment of tribes, the Act contains

mandatory language requiring tribes to affirmatively declare

their participation in the national sex offender program

created by the Act, by July 27, 2007 – or automatically

cede civil and criminal authority to the state for purposes

of enforcing the new law. This article explains the Act's effect on Indian Country.

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