Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

California Bill Allowing More than Two Legal Parents Vetoed, The Washington Times

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation today that would have allowed children to have more than two legal parents.

Senate Bill 1476 by State Senator Mark Leno would have allowed judges to recognize more than two legal parents if it is determined to be “required in the best interests of the child.” It would have allowed a previous custodial or biological parent to have parental rights and take care of a child if the two current legal parents are no longer capable, as long as doing so is required to protect the child’s best interests.

States Struggle with National Sex Offender Law, Stateline (Pew Center)

Six years ago, Congress passed what is known as the Adam Walsh Act , aimed at protecting children from predators by collecting sex offender data in a national public registry and requiring those people listed in it to report their movements to law enforcement.

But many other states are continuing to voice their objections to what the federal law expects of them. Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures, expects states to continue to press Congress for more discretion about which offenders to place on the three-tiered national registry, and for how long. Currently the law requires that convicted sex offenders, including juvenile offenders, remain in the registry for anywhere from 15 years to life, depending on the severity of their crime.

Many States Still Resisting Federal Sex Offender Mandates, NJ Fair

In the absence of changes to Adam’s law, however, some states will argue that complying with it is simply not worth the costs. Even though they lose 10 percent of their justice assistance money, that is usually less than they would end up paying for compliance. Ohio, which was the first state to become compliant in 2007, had within two years spent about $10 million just defending itself against lawsuits from offenders sentenced to the registry, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In contrast, Ohio would have lost only about $2 million for non-compliance during the same period.

These calculations may be the main reason why other large and budget-challenged states such as Texas, California, and New York have not taken steps to comply. A Texas Senate study conducted in 2010 found that implementing the act in that state would cost about $39 million, in comparison to a loss in federal grants of $1.4 million per year. Texas legislators have also argued that the state’s current sex offender system, which was handling 66,587 registered sex offenders as of June 2011, is already backed up and that imposing another layer of requirements would only add to the strain of struggling law enforcement agencies.

Justice is Swift for Juvenile Law Breakers at Tulsa State Fair, KRMG

Teenagers who get caught doing something illegal at the Tulksa State Fair will likely meet Carl Funderburk. He’s a judge who’s set up shop inside a trailer next to the QuikTrip Center at the Fairgrounds. Funderburk says it’s usually underage brawlers and boozers who end up on his docket.

 

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