1994 – Congress passed the “Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Act”, which required states to implement a sex offender registration program.
1996 – Wetterling amended by Megan’s Law: every state was required to conduct community notification and create Internet sites containing sex offender data.
2006 – In July, the United States adopted the “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act”, which required that states apply identical criteria for Internet posting of sex offender data. Prior to the adoption of this law, various states were engaging in sex offender registration but their efforts were not uniform. Title1 of the Adam Walsh Act (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act or SORNA) established minimal criteria which states, territories, the District of Columbia and Indian tribes were instructed to follow.
Contrary to popular belief registration laws are not designed to prevent sex offenses from occurring but rather to assist law enforcement in their efforts to apprehend sex offenders and inform the public that potentially dangerous individuals may be in their area.