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Memorandum on the Development of a National Sexual Offender Registration System

June 25, 1996

Memorandum for the Attorney General

Subject: Development of a National Sexual Offender Registration System

One of the most important duties of government is to provide safety and protection for our children from sexual offenders. Sex crimes and sex offender recidivism present very real and substantial challenges to law enforcement in protecting vulnerable populations and preventing crime. Law enforcement data show that, as a group, sex offenders are significantly more likely than other repeat offenders to commit additional sex crimes or other violent crimes, and that tendency persists over time.

One of the most significant provisions in the "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994" (Crime Bill) was the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (Wetterling Act). It promotes the establishment by States of effective registration systems for child molesters and other sexually violent offenders.

In addition, I recently signed "Megan's Law," which builds upon the Crime Bill by making community notification concerning registered sex offenders mandatory. Megan's Law will require States to make public relevant information about child molesters and sexually violent offenders who are released from prison or placed on parole.

Sex offender registration systems can greatly assist the investigation of sex crimes. In addition, creation of State-based registration systems is crucial for enabling State law enforcement agencies to communicate with each other regarding sex offenders who cross State lines. When sex offenders move, the law should move with them.

It is time to take the next step. That is why I am directing the Department of Justice to develop a plan for the implementation of a national sexual predator and child molester registration system. This system should build upon the Wetterling Act—which is already establishing 50 separate sex offender registration and notification systems—by combining this information into a national system.

I want the Department to work with all 50 States, the Congress, the Judiciary, and all appropriate Federal agencies on a plan for such a system so that law enforcement officers at every level will have access to information on all sexual offenders in the United States and share this information with one another.

Please report to me in writing by August 20, 1996, on the specific steps you will take to develop this policy. Thank you for all the work you and the Department have done to date, and for the work it will take to put this important piece in place.


William J. Clinton, Memorandum on the Development of a National Sexual Offender Registration System Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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