July 27th, 2006 16:21 EST
Twenty-Five Years After Horrific Crime, National Law put in Place
On July 27, 1981, 6-year-old Adam Walsh walked into a Sears`s department store in Hollywood, Florida and was never seen again.
Hollywood police and hundreds of volunteers searched everywhere from the mall parking lot to wooded areas. Posters were plastered all across South Florida and the reward grew to $100,000.
After one of the most widespread searches in Florida history, which lasted roughly two weeks, young Adam`s severed head was discovered in a Vero Beach Canal, about 100 miles from the Hollywood department store where he was last seen. The rest of his body has never been found and the crime has never been solved, remaining a cold case.
It is Adam Walsh`s brutal murder that has changed the way parents and legislatures across the nation viewed their children`s safety. Finding missing children became a number-one priority amongst city officials and police mobilization became readily available to act on command.
Adam`s parents, Reve and John Walsh, soon directed the pain of their son`s death to a nation-wide movement, becoming two of the most influential and powerful advocates for the rights of missing children.
The Walsh`s founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. John Walsh`s TV program, "America`s Most Wanted,`` has led to the apprehension of thousands of criminals. And now, on July 27, 2006, exactly 25 years after Adam`s death, President Bush signed a bill into law enforcing stronger and more efficient ways to keep track of sex offenders` nation wide.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection Act establishes a national sex offender registry that will make it easier for local law enforcement to track sex offenders and prevent repeat offenses. The bill also authorizes much-needed grants to help local law enforcement agencies establish and integrate sex offender registry systems.
The Bill will make a uniform sex offender registry in every state and add 500 new U.S. marshals, who will be assigned to fugitive task forces, " John Walsh, Adam Walsh`s father and host of America`s Most Wanted, said Tuesday to TV critics gathered for a press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
The laws and protections that the Walsh`s have help to implement into American Society were not readily available at the time of their son`s disappearance. Their case remains one of the most famous cold cases in recent American crimes.
The two weeks that I searched for Adam, the two weeks that I searched for that little boy, were the worst two weeks of my life, except for the day that we found him, " Walsh said at the Tuesday conference.
In a statement made on July 20th, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, one of the many senators that helped to push the bill through the Senate floor, expressed his contentment with the way the legislative process occurred.
I appreciate the willingness of all members to put aside unrelated controversial issues so that we could focus on the core purpose of this bill "- protecting children, " Reid said.
House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, just five days after the bill passed through the senate, expresses his advocacy for the passing of the bill through the House of Representatives, stating that the U.S house puts the protection of its children first.
We`ve all seen the disturbing headlines about sex offenders and crimes against children. These crimes cannot persist. Protecting our children from Internet predators and child exploitation enterprises are just as high a priority as securing our border from terrorists, " said Hastert.
The House`s display of overwhelming support comes less than a week after the Senate offered unanimous consent to pass the bill.
Tom McClusky, the Family Research Council`s vice president for government affairs, expressed his gratitude for the speedy passing of the bill through both the House of Representatives and the Senate in a statement made on July 25th.
I strongly commend the leadership of the House and the Senate, as well as Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who were committed to crafting a bill that was both substantive and effective. "
On hand for the Rose Garden signing ceremony were families of some of the fortunate children who have been recovered--Elizabeth Smart was there with her father--and those less fortunate, like Walsh whose pain President Bush said he felt and shared.
"By enacting this law we`re sending a clear message across the country: Those who prey on our children will be caught, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law," the president said.