Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 passed the House Judiciary Committee

On March 22, 2017, the “Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017” passed the House Judiciary Committee. This closed a statutory "loophole" which previously did not include an authorization under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3154 and 3603 for probation officers to supervise civilly committed sexually dangerous persons who had been granted conditional release. The following was posted on the JNET.

Issue Description: The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 authorized the conditional release of civilly committed sexually dangerous persons per 18 U.S.C. § 4248, but it did not amend 18 U.S.C. §§ 3154 and 3603 to give probation and pretrial services officers explicit supervisory authority over these offenders. It is clear from the statute’s context that Congress intended for probation and pretrial services officers to supervise these offenders. Probation and pretrial services officers already are authorized to supervise other persons conditionally released under chapter 313 of title 18. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 4243 & 4246. Courts have ordered supervision of conditionally released sexually dangerous persons accordingly (for example, by designating probation officers to supervise such offenders under 18 U.S.C. § 3603(10)). Nevertheless, under current law some sexually dangerous persons could be released into the community without appropriate supervision.

As of February 2017, 62 inmates in the Bureau of Prisons have been civilly committed by the court. There are six inmates currently “certified” under 18 U.S.C. § 4248(a), a process that stays the inmate’s release from the BOP while awaiting a civil commitment hearing. Five offenders are currently on conditional release in the community.

Legislative History: Legislative language to close this loophole was included in H.R. 1188, the “Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017,” which passed the House Judiciary Committee on March 22, 2017. Director James Duff, acting in his capacity as the Secretary of the Judicial Conference, sent a letter to Committee leadership expressing the Conference’s support. This reform also was included in bipartisan legislation that advanced in the House and Senate in the previous Congress, although it was not enacted.

Judicial Conference Position: At its September 2011 meeting, the Judicial Conference endorsed closing this loophole by giving probation and pretrial services officers the explicit statutory authority to supervise these offenders. This reform was included as Section 8 of the draft criminal judicial administration legislation that Director James Duff sent to Congress in March 2017. It was similarly submitted to the previous Congress.