- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State officials say Arkansas falls short in meeting standards set by a federal law on sex offender registration and monitoring.

They say Arkansas is one of 33 states that don’t meet all the requirements of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which aims to create a comprehensive standard in how states keep track of sex offenders, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1INxZQ3 ) reported.

The law has 14 requirements for states to meet to be eligible for some federal grant money, and Arkansas currently doesn’t meet three of them, said Brad Cazort, the head of the Arkansas Crime Information Center’s sex offender registry.

Among them, the state’s registry doesn’t make public all sex offenders, but rather those with higher risks of re-offending. It also doesn’t automatically add to its public website the names of youths found guilty of the most serious sex crimes.

Officials told members of the Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force during a Wednesday meeting that Arkansas’ laws on sex offenders would have to be amended in order for the state to meet all of the federal requirements.

A state prison psychologist cited a 2008 Justice Policy Institute study in saying the cost of making state changes to meet the federal standards could be as high as $4.6 million.

But Cazort said he wasn’t aware of any additional costs the state would face. He said the Arkansas Crime Information Center already has the tools and information to comply with the federal standards, and it’s merely a matter of the Legislature changing the law.

States that don’t comply with the federal law automatically lose 10 percent of any grant funding available to law enforcement agencies and courts through a program administered by the Department of Justice.

The study estimated that Arkansas forfeits about $218,000 in grant money but saves millions by not meeting the federal standards.

State Rep. Matthew Shepherd doubts that making the changes to comply with the standards would be cost-prohibitive.

“I’ve heard people make the claim it will cost more. I’m not certain. I’m just not sure whether that’s going to be the case,” said Shepherd, who serves as the task force’s co-chairman. “When you’re talking about something that Congress passed and federal funds are tied to, it’s something we need to look at, and it needs to be considered.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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