By Brenda and Sandy . . . In 2009, Nebraska adopted the tiering system of the Adam Walsh Act, overnight essentially doubling its public database by pulling previously non-public registrants onto its published sexual offender registry, individuals who had already paid their debts to society and were moving forward with their lives. Many had married, started families, built or rebuilt meaningful careers, and were contributing, tax-paying members of Nebraska society. All of this came to an abrupt halt when their names were put on the public list.
The Adam Walsh Act does not make any actual assessment of risk, instead simply lumping all persons with particular offenses into its three tiers. In the years since AWA was first introduced, there has been no evidence that published registries have had any significant benefit to public safety. In fact, Nebraska found that after the transition was made to everyone being publicly listed, sexual recidivism actually increased: “Specifically, the pre-LB 285 classification system resulted in a 2-year recidivism rate of 1.7% and a 1-year recidivism rate of 0.6%. In comparison, the post-LB 285 classification system resulted in a 2-year recidivism rate of 2.6% and a 1-year recidivism rate of 1.7%.” In addition, many studies have appeared indicating the societal harm registries cause, not only to former offenders but also to their families and to their communities who are deprived of a stable, contributing member.