Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/23/1997)

Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offenders Registration Improvements Act of 1997 - Amends the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (the Act) (title XVII, subtitle A, of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA)) regarding sex offender registration programs to repeal a requirement that a person required to register do so with a designated State law enforcement agency.

Requires that a determination of whether a person is a sexually violent predator be made by a court after considering the recommendation of a board composed of experts in the behavior and treatment of sex offenders, victims' rights advocates, and representatives of law enforcement agencies. Authorizes the Attorney General to: (1) waive such requirement upon determining that the State has established alternative procedures or legal standards for designating a person as a sexually violent predator; and (2) approve alternative measures of comparable or greater effectiveness in protecting the public from unusually dangerous or recidivistic sexual offenders.

Modifies requirements regarding release, parole, supervised release, and probation of such persons to require specified actions by the court or another responsible officer or official, including reporting address changes as provided by State law. Directs the court or such officer or official to inform the person that: (1) if the person changes residence to another State, the person must report the change of address as provided by State law and comply with any registration requirement in the new State of residence; and (2) the person must also register in a State where the person is employed, carries on a vocation, or is a student.

Revises registration procedures to require that State procedures ensure that: (1) the registration information is promptly made available to a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the person expects to reside and entered into the appropriate State records or data system; (2) conviction data and fingerprints (but not address information as currently required by the Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 (Lychner Act)) for persons required to register are promptly transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation; (3) the address for persons required to register be verified at least annually; (4) updated address information is promptly made available to a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the person will reside and entered into the appropriate State records or data system; and (5) procedures are in place to accept registration information from persons who were convicted in another State, convicted of a Federal offense, or sentenced by a court martial, and nonresident offenders who have crossed into another State to work or attend school.

Directs States to participate in the interim national sex offender registry database in accordance with guidelines issued by the Attorney General, including transmission of current address information and other information on registrants to the extent provided by the guidelines.

Includes independent contractors acting at the direction of law enforcement agencies within the scope of provisions granting immunity for good faith conduct.

Amends the Lychner Act to direct that States be allowed a specified time frame to establish minimally sufficient sexual offender registration programs, and to make related VCCLEA provisions effective at the conclusion of such time frame.

Extends registration requirements to sex offenders convicted in Federal or military courts. Requires such offenders to register in accordance with the laws of the States in which they reside, and that Federal and military authorities ensure that such offenders are notified of the registration obligation.

Authorizes the Attorney General to protect the confidentiality of the identity and location of persons subject to registration requirements as convicted offenders under Federal or State law, including prescribing alternative procedures to those otherwise provided by Federal or State law for registration and tracking of such persons.

(Sec. 3) Expresses the sense of the Congress that each State should have in effect a law that makes it a crime to stalk any individual, especially children, without requiring that such individual be physically harmed or abducted before a stalker is restrained or punished.

Directs the Attorney General to include in an annual report under the VCCLEA information concerning existing or proposed State laws and penalties for stalking crimes against children.

(Sec. 4) Sets forth the effective date. Grants States three years from the date of enactment to implement amendments made by this Act which impose new requirements under the Act, with two year extensions authorized to States that are making good faith efforts to implement this Act.