Convicted molesters could face death

Thursday, July 20, 2006

WASHINGTON - Convicted child molesters would face the death penalty for killing their victims and a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts with authorities under a bill the Senate approved Thursday.

The bill, designed to help police find more than 100,000 such sex offenders by creating an Internet-posted national database, also increases minimum sentences for those who travel between states.

The Senate approved the measure on a voice vote. The House is to consider it next week, and
President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.

"Sex offenders have run rampant in this country and now Congress and the people are ready to respond with legislation that will curtail the ability of sex offenders to operate freely," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah., who authored the legislation with Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-S.D.

"We track library books better than we track sex offenders. This evens the score," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., a sponsor in the House.

Debate was tearful from the start as the Senate considered the bill named for Adam Walsh, the murdered son of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh. He watched from the gallery as senators thanked him for years of lobbying for the bill. July 27 is the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Adam, 6, and his subsequent murder.

"This has to be bittersweet for him," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., choking up as he made a rare reference to his infant daughter Amy, killed in a 1972 car crash.

Child advocates have called the bill the most sweeping sex offender legislation to target pedophiles in years. It would:

_Establish a comprehensive federal DNA database of material collected from convicted molesters, and procedures for the routine DNA collection and comparison to the database when someone has been convicted of such an offense.

_Provide federal funding for states to track pedophiles using global positioning devices.

_Allow victims of child abuse to sue their molesters.

_Impose a mandatory minimum sentence for raping a child.

_Impose a mandatory 10-year penalty for sex trafficking offenses involving children and for coercing child prostitution.

The bill is H.R. 4472
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