CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Signed into law in 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act to crack down on sex offender registry, has gone a long way in protecting those who can’t protect themselves.
Michael T. Baylous, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia, pointed to that Act as a backbone during a press conference with the West Virginia State Police at the Federal Courthouse Thursday. The press conference was in regard to a recent sex offender verification operation in Nicholas County.
“The act allows the Marshals service to go out and work with our state and local partners, and to conduct sex offender registry verification,” Baylous said. “It strengthened federal laws as they related to sexual and other violent crimes, tried to prevent pornography and make the internet safer for our children and our country.
“We want to make it very clear that those who prey on our children will be caught and they be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
90 sex offender verifications were conducted on Wednesday in Nicholas County. 80 verifications were compliant while 10 were not compliant. Of the 10 that were not compliant, three were arrested. Six were not arrested for minor violations, such as cell phones not being reported, vehicles not being listed, Wi-Fi not being accounted for, or not living at a residence which they stated on paperwork. The infractions will be further investigated by the WVSP.
One individual that was on the list was not located. WVSP say they are following up an investigation to locate that individual.
“Operations like this work as a force multiplier,” Baylous said. “It allows the Marshals service to come in and work with the West Virginia State Police, and to combine our resources to make sure sex offenders are compliant with the sex offender registry. It also allows the Marshals service to come in and provide overtime for troopers or any other officers that are working with us to conduct these verifications.
“In an ideal world, we would like to see everyone compliant. This just shows us why it is important what we do. There are folks out there that are not going to remain compliant without someone checking and looking over their shoulder occasionally.”
According to the WVSP, there are approximately 4,600 sex offenders living in West Virginia. The state police are mandated with keeping track of their records and information.
“The help of doing these roundups is very significant in ensuring people are complying with the laws being passed, that they are abiding by them,” Reggie Patterson, West Virginia State Police Major, said. “This helps us to go out there and make sure everyone is complying directed by law.
“The West Virginia State Police working alongside the U.S. Marshals is a great opportunity to enforce laws and provide strength to the state police as a needed resource. We are very thankful for the Marshals stepping up and helping the state police in this verification process.”
The U.S. Marshals Office for the Southern District of West Virginia noted during the press conference that the numbers of compliance with the sex offender verification operation in Nicholas County and others done in the past have continued to run close to even with the national average.