Message From the Director
After a 1-year hiatus, we are thrilled to be able to publish this current issue of SMART Watch. The past 12 months have been a period of intense activity for the SMART Office, and this issue is intended to update our readers on the results of that activity and the progress that has been made on all fronts.
A year ago, there was great uncertainty regarding the effect of the July 27, 2011, Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) implementation deadline. We were constantly asked questions such as "How many jurisdictions will implement by the deadline?" and "How will tribes be able to marshal their resources to establish sex offender registration and notification systems for the very first time within the required timeframe?" Now, 12 months later, we have solid answers to these questions. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of jurisdictions across the country, 30 percent of the States and 40 percent of the territories were able to substantially implement SORNA by the deadline. On the tribal side, a flurry of activity in the months leading up to the deadline yielded more than 100 substantial implementation submissions and a considerable number of supportable requests, pursuant to SORNA, for additional time to implement.
Within the past year, jurisdictions have made significant strides in information sharing, one of the primary goals of SORNA. Regarding registered sex offenders who plan to travel or move, jurisdictions are increasingly using new tools, such as the SORNA Exchange Portal, that allow them to share this information quickly and effectively with each other and with federal agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals Service and INTERPOL Washington. In addition, increased use of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website among tribal jurisdictions and enhancements to the public registries of States and territories have enabled jurisdictions to share important information more easily with the public regarding sex offenders in their communities.
Also in the past year, the SMART Office launched its Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative to ensure that we remain responsive to the needs of those working within the field of sex offender management as we work to focus our limited funding on identifying and supporting evidence-based practices in this area. We urge you to read more about this initiative, as well as our other efforts, in this issue of SMART Watch and hope to see many of you at our National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability in New Orleans, Louisiana, this August.
Linda M. Baldwin
Spotlight on Indian Country
SORNA Implementation in Indian Country
The SMART Office has received an impressive response from Indian Country regarding implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16925(a) (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006). To date, 112 tribal jurisdictions have submitted SORNA implementation packages. Twenty-seven tribal jurisdictions have been found to have substantially implemented SORNA, 86 additional packages are in various stages of review, and 59 tribal jurisdictions have requested an additional specified reasonable amount of time to implement changes to codes, policies, and procedures and other implementation activities to meet SORNA's minimum requirements. Eighty-one tribes have public sex offender websites linked to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The SMART Office continues to work with all these tribal jurisdictions to address any outstanding issues.
SMART Office Review Process Explained
The SMART Office team assigned to Indian Country is reviewing packages in the order they are received, with each tribal jurisdiction's review taking anywhere from 1 to 4 months. Each package is reviewed individually based on the tribal jurisdiction's unique needs and complex infrastructure.
When a package review commences, the reviewer alerts the tribal representative that the review process has begun and asks if any new information about the program should be included. The reviewer then checks NSOPW to ensure that the tribe has a live website that is connected to NSOPW (unless the tribe has an agreement with a State or another tribe to participate in their registry and public website). If the website is functional, the reviewer uses the substantial implementation checklist to ensure that the minimum requirements of SORNA are covered. The reviewer considers the unique aspects of the tribe's sex offender registration and notification program and works with the tribal representative to ensure that all legal, procedural, information-sharing, and other SORNA requirements are met. Once the reviewer determines that the standards have been met and that the tribe has a live, functioning sex offender registration and notification system, the package is moved through the remainder of the review process.
Based on the reviews conducted to date, the SMART Office has identified a number of common errors and omissions. The office encourages all tribal jurisdictions to ensure that the listed items below, as well as all the items on the substantial implementation checklist, have been addressed. If not, the SMART Office cannot complete a full review.
- The tribal jurisdiction's public website is operational and is linked to NSOPW. (Many tribal jurisdictions use the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System as their public website and sex offender management system.)
- The tribal jurisdiction is actively using the SORNA Exchange Portal to exchange information with other jurisdictions.
- There is a system or plan for recapturing sex offenders who are newly required to register with the tribal jurisdiction under the requirements of SORNA.
- It is clear how the tribal jurisdiction is taking and submitting fingerprints (to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's IAFIS—the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and palm prints (to the FBI's NGI—Next Generation Identification).
- It is clear how the tribal jurisdiction is taking DNA samples and how the samples are being tested and submitted for entry into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).
- It is clear how the tribal jurisdiction is submitting all required registration data to the National Crime Information Center's National Sex Offender Registry (NCIC/NSOR) or the jurisdiction provides an explanation of the current process or challenges.
- The tribal sex offender registration code is updated according to the required changes contained in SORNA's supplemental guidelines and other tiering updates indicated in the updated Model Tribal Code.
- There is a system for how to notify all sex offenders who are employees working on tribal land of their obligation to register.
- There is a system for how the court is going to provide notice to offenders pleading and found guilty of registerable sex offenses.
Implementation Before Review Is Complete
Tribal jurisdictions should not wait for the SMART Office review to be complete before they implement their SORNA programs. In fact, SMART Office reviewers are only able to perform a full final review of the substantial implementation package if the tribal jurisdiction's program is operational. The SMART Office cannot make a finding of substantial implementation if the program, policies, and procedures and/or code are in draft or proposed form.
The SMART Office is only reviewing full implementation packages and is not able to do preliminary reviews; however, if a tribe, nation, or pueblo has a specific, unique issue that needs to be resolved, please contact the office.
Requests for Reallocation of Byrne JAG Funding Penalty
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) set forth a penalty for jurisdictions that failed to substantially implement SORNA by the July 27, 2011, deadline. The penalty is a 10-percent reduction in funds that would otherwise be allocated to the jurisdiction for the fiscal year under its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) formula funds. Fifteen States and two territories implemented SORNA by the deadline (see SORNA Update). Thus, 35 States, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia faced the 10-percent reduction in their Byrne JAG funds.
SORNA further provided that the amounts withheld for failure to substantially implement SORNA should be reallocated to jurisdictions that did not fail or to the jurisdictions from which they were withheld to be used solely for the purpose of implementing SORNA. All but five jurisdictions (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nebraska, and Texas) have requested reallocations of their penalties to apply toward continuing SORNA implementation efforts. The Assistant Attorney General has granted the reallocation requests of the 34 remaining States and territories, and the SMART Office looks forward to working with these jurisdictions as they continue their implementation efforts. For those States that failed to implement and did not request reallocation, their penalty funds will be held in a trust account and will be dispersed in future years to implementing jurisdictions.
SORNA Implementation Update
The SMART Office has received information from nearly all States and territories and the District of Columbia regarding their progress toward substantial implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16925(a) (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006). To date, the SMART Office has provided full substantial implementation reviews for 33 States and territories as well as numerous partial or preliminary reviews and has determined that 15 States and 2 territories substantially implemented SORNA by the July 27, 2011, statutory deadline. (See SORNA Implementation in Indian Country for information on tribal jurisdictions.)
SMART Office staff continue to work with the remaining States and territories to address their obstacles to implementation. The office has reviewed the jurisdictions' proposed legislation and policies so that they may know in advance whether those statutes or policies will further their progress toward substantial implementation. In person and on the phone, SMART Office staff have also provided technical assistance to jurisdictions whose legislators and executive branch representatives are unsure of what substantial implementation entails or what steps they must take to substantially implement SORNA.
Beyond these responses for assistance from individual States and territories, the SMART Office is working continually to develop and improve tools designed to facilitate jurisdictions' progress toward substantial implementation. The office has created various documents to assist jurisdictions, including a substantial implementation checklist that outlines in detail many of SORNA's requirements and a series of documents titled Topics in SORNA Implementation that further define and provide guidance on SORNA's requirements. In addition, the SMART Office helped to develop supplemental guidelines for SORNA, which complement the national guidelines released in 2008.
The SMART Office has also created technological tools to assist states and territories. The Sex Offender Registry Tool and the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System allow states and territories to establish SORNA-compliant registry databases and public registry websites. The SORNA Exchange Portal enables registration personnel to share information online, within and outside of their jurisdictions, through discussion boards, document and file sharing, event calendars, historical statutes databases, and Offender Relocation Tasks, the latter of which allows one jurisdiction to notify another of an offender's relocation.
In addition to these activities, the SMART Office participates in conferences and training events to educate registry, policy, and law enforcement officials about SORNA's requirements. Most recently, SMART Office staff participated in a webinar sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association, during which SMART Office Director Linda Baldwin provided information on SORNA-related legislation and practices that have been found to sufficiently address SORNA's requirements. In addition, the SMART Office hosts a National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability. For more information about this symposium, which will be held this August in New Orleans, Louisiana, please visit the SMART Office website in the coming months.
In February 2012, the SMART Office made States aware of available financial assistance to help them with their implementation of SORNA. States were eligible for up to $200,000 for technology services and equipment needed to meet SORNA's technical system requirements. Twenty States have expressed interest in receiving the funding and are at various stages in the process, from actively receiving the funding to defining their jurisdiction's technical needs.
International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group
When the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) was enacted and its final guidelines—National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification—were published, the U.S. Department of Justice was tasked with creating a tracking system for sex offenders who depart and reenter the United States. To that end, the SMART Office created the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group in 2008—a multiagency initiative that enables appropriate information sharing about sex offenders who either intend to travel or are travelling internationally. The working group has developed a number of tools over the past year that will allow federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement to more effectively supervise, monitor, and interdict offenders who travel internationally.
In January 2011, Supplemental Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification were announced. Among other matters that they address, the guidelines require that jurisdictions capture certain information about the international travel plans of registered sex offenders 21 days prior to that travel taking place. The SMART Office subsequently issued SORNA Implementation Document 15—Notice of International Travel—which includes a list of information that must be gathered and describes how jurisdictions can send that information to the National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC) of the U.S. Marshals Service.
NSOTC, working in conjunction with the SMART Office and the U.S. National Central Bureau of INTERPOL, has developed the Notification of International Travel of Sex Offender form to facilitate the transfer of this international travel information. See International Travel Form in this issue for more information.
In addition, the SMART Office submitted a proposal to the advisory policy board of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services Division to authorize the development of the automatic notification procedure described in the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group: White Paper. In December 2011, the proposal was approved and is now awaiting final approval from the director of the FBI. Once the proposal is implemented, local registering agencies and NSOTC will receive an automatic notification from the National Sex Offender Registry whenever a registered sex offender is screened by the Department of Homeland Security upon entering or departing the United States. These notifications will enable local and federal law enforcement officials to have real-time information, which will facilitate their overall sex offender monitoring strategies.
The SMART Office 2012 Program Plan includes continuing support for the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program. In addition, the SMART Office plans to release additional funding opportunities to support sex offender risk assessment research and the development and enhancement of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) programs in jurisdictions.
FY 2012 Funding Opportunities
The SMART Office released the SMART FY 2012 Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program funding announcement on January 31, 2012. This funding assists jurisdictions in offsetting the costs of implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Jurisdictions may receive up to $400,000 to further substantial implementation efforts or to maintain ongoing compliance with SORNA. The application deadline was April 3, 2012.
In partnership with the National Institute of Justice, the SMART Office will be releasing a solicitation this spring seeking applications from jurisdictions interested in implementing the Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale, in combination with the Static-99R (a sex offender-specific static risk assessment tool), to replicate previous study findings and to further evaluate the effectiveness of this model of risk assessment. This project is intended to inform and improve sex offender management practices by promoting the use of evidence-based tools in predicting risk of reoffense.
Additionally, the SMART Office will be releasing solicitations this spring seeking applications from jurisdictions interested in implementing the COSA program and for a training and technical assistance provider to ensure COSA implementation fidelity and proper training of community volunteers. COSA is a supervision strategy that uses community volunteers to provide support to individual sex offenders, which helps reintegrate them into communities and encourages community engagement in the reentry process.
Finally, the SMART Office will be funding three fellowship positions focusing on enhancing its capacity to provide technical assistance and support to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions regarding their responses to sexual violence and exploitation in the context of sex offender management. These new fellowships will focus on 1) victims’ issues, 2) prevention and education, and 3) practices and research in Indian Country.
SMART Office funding opportunities may be found on the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) funding page, the SMART Office website, and on Grants.gov. All applications must be submitted via Grants.gov. Interested applicants are encouraged to review the OJP funding resource document Grants 101.
FY 2011 Funding Summary
In fiscal year 2011, the SMART Office continued support for SORNA implementation by awarding $8,126,248 to 10 States, 23 tribes, and 2 territories. The office awarded $822,576 for continuing maintenance and operation of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, and Fox Valley Technical College received $500,000 to provide technical assistance regarding SORNA implementation to those tribes that have elected to become sex offender registration jurisdictions.
The Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Training and Technical Assistance Program awarded $1.8 million to the National Judicial College to support judicial training and technical assistance regarding multidisciplinary sex offender management. Program goals include providing three regional training sessions for up to 300 judges; onsite, targeted technical assistance for 6 jurisdictions; and 10 regional training sessions for multidisciplinary personnel wanting to enhance sex offender management efforts and further court-based collaborations.
A list of 2011 grantees may be found online at the SMART Awards webpage.
The SMART Office also continued its cross-agency collaboration efforts in FY 2011. The office remained partners with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems Program and provided additional funding to the Bureau of Justice Assistance for its Second Chance Act efforts in Colorado and Vermont to demonstrate their use of the COSA approach and for the National Reentry Resource Center to enhance its capacity to assist the field in the area of sex offender reentry.
New SMART Staff
The SMART Office announces the addition of two new staff to its team: Faith A. Baker and Sharon-Beth Kristal.
Faith A. Baker serves as the associate director of the SMART Office. Ms. Baker's responsibilities include assisting the director and staff in providing management and oversight of SMART Office grant programs, including the Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program, the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Grant Program, and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.
Prior to joining the SMART Office, Ms. Baker served as the associate director at the Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO), Office of Justice Programs, where she worked to implement the Weed and Seed Initiative. Ms. Baker served CCDO in various capacities, starting as a grants program specialist in 1997. She later became special assistant to the director for grants management in 2004 before assuming the role as associate director in 2007. For more than a decade, Ms. Baker provided management and oversight of more than 300 Weed and Seed communities. She coordinated national and local partnerships with police departments, community groups, and service providers under the Weed and Seed Initiative. Her strong advocacy for building law enforcement relations with the community has given her a comprehensive understanding of public safety policy disciplines as they relate to law enforcement and community policing program requirements.
Prior to embarking on her professional federal career at the U.S. Department of Justice, Ms. Baker worked and interned at the Trudie Wallace Halfway House for Women in the District of Columbia, where she provided oversight to nearly 25 incarcerated women. While pursuing her bachelor's degree, Ms. Baker also worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Human Resources Office, where she received numerous "unsung hero" and commendation awards.
Ms. Baker received her bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Howard University and a master of public administration from Southeastern University in the District of Columbia.
Sharon-Beth Kristal, a contractor, serves as the U.S. Marshals Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC) Liaison to the SMART Office. Prior to joining the office, Ms. Kristal ran Fugitive Safe Surrender on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service, during which time almost 18,000 people with outstanding warrants surrendered. She served as counsel on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations for Senator Norm Coleman and counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Mike DeWine, with a focus on crime and drug issues, which included the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. While at the Office of the District Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ms. Kristal prosecuted misdemeanors and preliminary hearings of felonies, with a focus on domestic violence, as well as unemployment compensation fraud. Additionally, she represented the government in asset forfeiture cases. Ms. Kristal graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University with a law degree and a major in criminal law and procedure and has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.
SMART Office Launches New Initiative
In March 2011, the SMART Office began work on the Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI), a project designed to assess the state of research and practice in sex offender management and to inform the Office of Justice Program's (OJP) research and grant making efforts in this area. As part of this effort, the office gathered information in the field and asked practitioners to provide details about promising and effective sex offender management programs or practices and to identify the needs of the various disciplines involved.
Following this information-gathering phase, the SMART Office hosted a 1½–day forum on February 8–9, 2012, in the District of Columbia. Approximately 50 national experts—researchers and practitioners—were invited to discuss the office's assessment and to further refine what is known about the current state of sex offender management, gaps in research and practice, and the needs of the different disciplines involved in this work. Recommendations from this forum will be used to shape the agenda of the SMART Office's 2012 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability, to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 7–9, 2012. At the symposium, participants will learn from national and local experts and government officials about the latest and most promising practices in adult and juvenile sex offender management, covering topics such as prevention, investigation, arrest, prosecution, sentencing, correctional programming, reentry, supervision, treatment, registering, tracking, and current research.
The culmination of SOMAPI will help guide OJP's sex offender management research, policy, and grant making efforts and will provide direction to the field on how best to protect the public from sexual violence.
More information about SOMAPI will be posted soon on the SMART Office's website.
The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) has added an exciting enhancement. As of December 2011, users can now conduct address-based searches of the following 13 States: Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington. Although many jurisdictions offer address-based searching on their individual public registry websites, having a national address search available in one location is tremendously helpful for the public. Unfortunately, these 13 States are the only States thus far that have provided the offender information needed to search for registered sex offenders by address. The remaining 37 States are encouraged to make providing this information a priority.
NSOPW is getting a facelift. A project to completely redesign the website is expected to be completed by July 1, 2012. The new design will improve navigation and provide a more visually appealing experience. The mobile version of NSOPW is also being redesigned so that it is consistent with the full version and adapts easily to different screen sizes. With this adaptability, the site will appear on mobile devices, phones, or tablets in a way that maximizes the individual device's screen size, providing a customized view for each device.
SORNA Exchange Portal
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Exchange Portal allows sex offender registration jurisdictions to share information, particularly about offenders moving or traveling to other jurisdictions. Currently, 40 States and numerous tribal jurisdictions are responding to Offender Relocation Tasks assigned to them in the SORNA Exchange Portal. (The "tasks" feature allows jurisdictions to notify one another when offenders relocate.) This is a tremendous improvement since the last newsletter, but the goal is to have all jurisdictions actively sharing information through the portal.
Some functionality has been added to the portal recently to make it a more useful resource. One enhancement is the creation of an information request form, which allows jurisdictions to request information from other jurisdictions without having to know specific contact information. Jurisdiction contacts automatically receive an email about the information request and can log on to the portal to handle it. Another enhancement is the addition of monthly reports that are emailed to all jurisdiction contacts. These reports list the recipient jurisdiction's Offender Relocation Tasks that have not yet been completed.
In addition, the portal also provides more information about working with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS):
- A map on the USMS portal site assists jurisdictions with identifying the appropriate USMS district contact for their area.
- An international travel form, available on the portal's home page, allows jurisdictions to notify USMS about registered sex offenders traveling or relocating internationally. (See International Travel Form for more information.)
Tribes and territories are continuing to adopt the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System (TTSORS) as their sex offender management system and public website. There are now 121 jurisdictions that have adopted TTSORS, with more expected over the next few months. Additionally, 81 of the 121 jurisdictions are currently participating in NSOPW through TTSORS, and their registration information is included in NSOPW national searches. For jurisdictions using TTSORS, no extra effort is needed to share information with NSOPW. If your jurisdiction is using TTSORS and is not sharing information with NSOPW, please send a request to [email protected].
The TTSORS National Training Event is scheduled for April 24–25, 2012, in Asheville, North Carolina. More than 180 attendees are expected, representing close to 100 tribes and territories. Attendees will learn about all of the system's features, including enhancements that will be unveiled during the event.
The SMART Office is working on an NSOPW Facebook page that will educate people about sexual violence and, it is hoped, prevent potential victimization. Facebook is heavily used by parents, young adults, and teens and could be a great way to push out valuable safety information to the people who would be most interested in receiving it. The NSOPW Facebook page should be available soon.
International Travel Form
The Supplemental Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification require sex offenders to report their international travel 21 days prior to departing the United States. The U.S. Marshals Service's National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC), with the assistance of the SMART Office and INTERPOL, created the Notification of International Travel of Sex Offender form. This fillable PDF enables a seamless transfer of information from a jurisdiction's registry to the respective destination country.
The most recent version of this form is on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Exchange Portal. The Institute for Intergovernmental Research, which developed and maintains the portal, is now working on a process for international travel notification that is similar to the Offender Relocation Tasks feature used for interjurisdictional travel. In addition, the form has been distributed to State, territory, and tribal sex offender registry officials and has been posted on INTERPOL’s RissLEADS server (a secure, electronic bulletin board) and on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Law Enforcement Online (LEO) Special Interest Group (SIG) portal under INTERPOLUS.
Some tribal nations have developed an enhanced tribal card (ETC) to be used for non-air travel between the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. This secure photo ID has been approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for use during entry into the United States. If relevant, please be certain to include the ETC number on the international travel form, either under "passport number" or "other information."
An "email" button on the form makes it easy for users to submit the form directly to NSOTC. The email subject line should read "Sex Offender Travel Notification" to speed up processing. NSOTC will process the information and submit it to INTERPOL.
Upon receipt of the form, INTERPOL will notify the destination country. Unlike other notices, this is for informational purposes only and does not require action on behalf of the receiving country.
This streamlined form will make it easier for registration agencies to forward the required information in a timely manner, in accordance with the terms of the supplemental guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact NSOTC at 202-616-1600 or [email protected].
In This Newsletter
- Requests for Reallocation of Byrne JAG Funding Penalty
- SORNA Implementation Update
- International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group
- SMART Funding
- New SMART Staff
- SMART Office Launches New Initiative