Welcome to the SMART Office
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (AWA) became law on July 27, 2006. With Title I, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Congress and President Bush comprehensively revised the national standards for sex offender registration and notification, shoring up gaps that were left by the preceding 1994 law, the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act.
- Expands the jurisdictions included under registration requirements.
- Increases the number and type of offenses covered.
- Creates a three-tier sex offender classification framework.
- Requires periodic in-person check-ins as a mandatory element of registration programs.
- Expands the quantity of required registration information.
- Standardizes information to be included on public sex offender web sites.
- Modifies the federal superstructure that supports jurisdictions’ programs and implementation of the national standards.
- Creates an incentive program for early rollout of the new standards and penalties for failure to implement the new standards within a specified timeframe.
SORNA establishes the minimum standards for jurisdictions regarding sex offender registration and notification laws and requirements.
In addition to strengthening the monitoring and tracking of sex offenders, AWA created the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). Located in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, the SMART Office is the driving force behind nationwide implementation of SORNA.
The SMART Office opened its doors in December 2006 with Laura L. Rogers, a career prosecutor, at its helm. Ms. Rogers served as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego for 9 years, a Senior Attorney at the American Prosecutors Research Institute’s National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, and as the Director of the National Institute for Training Child Abuse Professionals. She also served as an adjunct law professor at George Mason School of Law.
Leslie Hagen, Assistant United States Attorney on detail from the Western District of Michigan, joined Ms. Rogers in February 2007. Ms. Hagen focuses on Indian Country’s implementation of SORNA. The office has since grown to a staff of six people, including Deputy Director Dawn Doran who formerly served as the Deputy Director of the National District Attorneys Association’s Child Abuse Programs, which include the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse and the National Child Protection Training Center, and as a prosecutor in Tennessee.
The office has two policy advisors who assist jurisdictions in implementing SORNA: Lori McPherson, a former Commonwealth of Virginia prosecutor and child sexual exploitation program manager for the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, and Lara Peirce, a former State of Texas child abuse prosecutor. Jacqueline O’Reilly, a former child forensic interviewer and child protective services worker, coordinates SMART’s grant programs as the office’s Grant Program Specialist.
The SMART Office has numerous responsibilities related to AWA’s implementation. First and foremost, SMART determines whether a jurisdiction has substantially implemented SORNA’s minimum requirements. The implementation deadline is July 27, 2009. Therefore, jurisdictions should submit compliance and tiering packages, or requests for extensions (jurisdictions may be eligible for up to two 1-year extensions), to the SMART Office by April 27, 2009. For more information on the contents of these submissions, email [email protected].
The SMART Office also—
- Administers grant programs related to sex offender registration and notification.
- Administers the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Discretionary Grant Program.
- Manages the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.
- Provides technical assistance and training on implementation issues to jurisdictions (states, territories, the District of Columbia, and Indian Country).
The SMART Office is the primary contact point for all sex offender management professionals in need of assistance. Providing implementation-related assistance is a key component of SMART’s mission. Email requests for assistance to [email protected], providing a detailed description of the assistance or training required as well as a telephone number and email address. A SMART staff member will contact you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.
Read the final National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification for more information on implementing SORNA.
SORNA: Implementation in Indian Country
The ability of Native American communities to know if convicted sex offenders are living on the reservation is critical. Indian communities endure violent crime, particularly sexual assault, at a rate far greater than any other demographic group in the United States. According to congressional findings, one out of every three Native American (including Alaska Native) women is raped in her lifetime. Moreover, Native American women experience 7 sexual assaults per 1,000, compared with 4 per 1,000 among Blacks, 3 per 1,000 among Caucasians, 2 per 1,000 among Hispanics, and 1 per 1,000 among Asian-American women (section 901 of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005). Sex offender registration and notification in Indian Country, as provided for in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (AWA), are effective tools in the prevention of sexual assault.
Under AWA, Title 1, Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), certain federally recognized Indian tribes are now included within the definition of registration “jurisdiction.” SORNA section 127 generally affords non-Public Law 280 Indian tribes (those in which the federal government prosecutes major felonies including sex offenses) a choice between functioning as registration jurisdictions and delegating those functions to the states in which they are located. According to SORNA, this decision had to be made by “tribal resolution or other enactment” on or before July 27, 2007.
Currently, 562 Indian tribes are federally recognized in the United States. Of these, 212 tribes were eligible under SORNA to make a registry election, and 197 of them timely filed a resolution or other enactment stating their intention to create their own sex offender registry. For the remaining 365 tribes, the states in which they are located are responsible for ensuring that applicable tribal convictions are on the state public registry and that covered sex offenders living in Indian Country are appropriately registered.
If a tribe elected to function as a registration jurisdiction, it has the same sex offender registration and notification functions and responsibilities as a state. SORNA and the final National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification provide that tribes may enter into cooperative agreements with states, a consortium of tribes, or other local units of government for pooling or sharing these functions and responsibilities. Tribes also can rescind a previous election to function as a registration jurisdiction and, to date, one has done so. If a rescission occurs, the registration function is delegated to the states.
Tribes, just like all other registration jurisdictions, have until July 27, 2009, to implement SORNA. Up to two 1-year extensions are provided for in the law. If a tribe delegated the responsibility to the state(s), then the state is responsible for registration and notification concerning sex offenders in the tribe’s territory. In the case of a delegation to the state, federal law grants the state a right of access to the tribe’s jurisdiction to implement the law.
The President and the Attorney General are committed to improving law enforcement and criminal justice in Indian Country and to ensuring that federally recognized Indian tribes are full partners in this effort. To further these efforts, the SMART Office is committed to working to protect our communities from sexual predators no matter where they reside, work, attend school, or travel.
Funding for SORNA Implementation
The SMART Office established the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation grant program in FY 2007 to assist state, local, and tribal jurisdictions in developing and/or enhancing programs designed to implement the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). This grant program provides funding to help jurisdictions—
- Develop or enhance sex offender registration programs.
- Improve law enforcement and other justice agency information sharing as it relates to sex offender registration and notification.
- Develop or enhance local absconder apprehension efforts.
- Collect, store, and analyze sex offender biometric and DNA data.
- Implement other efforts aimed at furthering SORNA’s objectives.
In March 2008, the SMART Office awarded 72 grants under the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation program, totaling $11.8 million, to 14 federally recognized Indian tribes, 28 states, and 39 localities. These awards support various projects involving efforts such as enhancement of information technology programs, support of sex offender registration and notification, address verification and implementation of sex offender registration programs, and multiagency task force operations targeting noncompliant sex offenders.
The SMART Office website includes the list of grantees. On July 31, 2008, the SMART Symposium will include a session that presents information on several innovative programs funded in FY 2008.
In March 2008, the SMART Office announced additional funding for this grant program through the release of the FY 2008 SMART Office Support for Implementation of the Adam Walsh Act Grant Program solicitation. Awards will be made by September 30, 2008.
In addition to the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation grant program, the SMART Office manages the Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment and Capacity Development grant program. In FY 2007, the SMART Office provided $5 million to support juvenile sex offender treatment programs. It is anticipated that program implementation will begin in September 2008.
In FY 2008, the SMART Office assumed management of the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management (CASOM) Training and Technical Assistance grant program from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The CASOM program assists state, local, and tribal jurisdictions in improving their adult and/or juvenile sex offender management policies and practices by—
- Critically examining existing approaches to monitoring and managing the population.
- Identifying significant gaps and needs in the monitoring and management of sex offender programs.
- Developing strategies to address the current shortcomings in existing programs or in the development of new programs.
The FY 2008 CASOM solicitation announced funding for one national training and technical assistance program and also state and tribal training grant opportunities. This solicitation closed on May 29, 2008, and awards will be made by September 30, 2008.
2008 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability
The SMART Office is pleased to announce that this year’s symposium is being held in Baltimore, Maryland from July 30 to August 1, 2008. The symposium is expected to draw more than 900 participants from around the country.
What Is Being Covered?
There are 2 days of plenary sessions and 1 day of breakout sessions with four tracks:
- Emerging Issues
- Indian Country
Presentations cover a wide variety of topics related to sex offender management, as well as implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. SMART also is showcasing the web-based software resources in development that will be provided to jurisdictions.
Who Is Attending?
Numerous individuals are attending:
- Law enforcement officials.
- Parole officers.
- Probation officers.
- State, federal, and local prosecutors.
- Tribal leaders.
- Sex offender monitoring officials.
- Sex offender registry technical personnel.
- SORNA policy advisors.
Where Can I Find Out More?
There is no cost to attend. Find out more about the symposium here.
2008 National Tribal Symposium: SORNA Training for Indian Country
The SMART Office held the 2008 National Tribal Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability on March 6 in the District of Columbia to provide Indian Country with training on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The symposium drew more than 300 tribal representatives.
According to SMART Senior Counsel, Leslie A. Hagen—
[A]s a group, Native American women suffer the highest level of sexual assault victimization in the country. SORNA will allow tribal communities to know if convicted offenders are living on the reservation. The opportunity to bring tribal leaders, tribal criminal justice, and tribal social service representatives together for the symposium was exceedingly beneficial. All are working to implement SORNA before the July 2009 deadline. The ability to answer common questions and share resources will assist tribal leaders as they work to implement this law.
The 1-day symposium began with an overview of SORNA. The remainder of the day’s presentations covered—
Sex offender apprehension initiatives from the U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
- The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.
- The SMART Office grant program.
- Tribal codes and cooperative agreements.
- Sex offender placement and treatment in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Highlighting the day’s program was a drum group, comprising members of the Crow Tribe, that performed an Honor Song as part of the traditional opening ceremonies and Orlinda “Orie” Platero, of the Navajo Nation, who led a traditional opening before lunch and ended the day with a traditional closing.
Release of Final National Guidelines
The final National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification, released by the Attorney General on July 1, 2008, is grouped into the following sections:
- Part I contains a comprehensive introduction and overview of the contents.
- Part II discusses terminology, minimum national standards, retroactivity, automation—electronic databases and software, and implementation.
- Part III defines “jurisdiction” under SORNA, describes which registration functions jurisdictions may delegate, and discusses tribal considerations extensively.
- Part IV addresses covered sex offenses and sex offenders, describing convictions generally, foreign convictions, sex offenses generally, specified offenses against minors, and protected witnesses. Part IV also discusses registration of juveniles who are 14 years of age or older and who are adjudicated delinquent for a criminal offense involving a sexual act—meaning any degree of genital or anal penetration, or any oral-genital or oral-anal contact—that also involves force, threat of serious violence, actions that render the victim unconscious, or drugging of a victim without his or her knowledge.
- Part V provides additional guidance on a number of topics, including the tiering of sex offenses.
- Part VI discusses required registration information.
- Part VII clearly identifies the eight core types of information required to be displayed on a jurisdiction’s public sex offender web site.
- Part VIII discusses where registration is required.
- Part IX describes the details required in the initial registration of a sex offender.
- Part X makes clear what is required to keep the registry information up to date.
- Part XI describes when sex offenders are required to make an in-person appearance with registry officials.
- Part XII discusses the duration of SORNA’s registration requirements.
- Part XIII addresses the steps that jurisdictions must take to enforce their registration requirements under SORNA.
The SMART Office is actively engaged in helping all jurisdictions implement the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The U.S. Department of Justice published the proposed National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification in May, 2007 with the public comment period ending on August 1, 2007. The SMART Office received more than 275 comments about issues such as applying SORNA retroactively, requiring juvenile sex offenders to register and be included on the public registry, and implementing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in Indian Country.
Read the final National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification.
Implementation Deadline Is July 27, 2009
Jurisdictions should submit compliance and tiering packages, and/or requests for extensions, to the SMART Office by April 27, 2009. For more information, email [email protected].
SMART To Provide Web-Based Software Tools
The SMART Office, through a grant awarded to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), is developing several web-based software resources to assist jurisdictions in implementing registry requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)—Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. These resources, which follow below, are being demonstrated at the 2008 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability in July.
The National Sex Offender Public Registry Exchange Site
This portal facilitates information sharing between jurisdictions’ sex offender registries. One of the site’s primary resources is the Offender Relocation Tasks tool. This tool allows jurisdictions to share information about offenders who are relocating and creates automated alerts to ensure that offenders register in person in accordance with SORNA.
Mapping and Geo-Coding
Jurisdictions will have free access to a mapping and geo-coding service that will allow them to geo-code addresses to enable SORNA-required geographic radius searches for sex offenders.
Community Email Notification System
Once in place, this free email notification system will allow a user to register his or her email address and a series of up to five physical addresses. Users can then choose whether they want to be notified when a sex offender moves within a certain geographic radius or ZIP code of the addresses they have provided.
Email Address Search System
This system will enable users to enter an email address into the National Sex Offender Public Registry and receive an immediate response as to whether it belongs to a registered sex offender. This service also will be made available to registration jurisdictions for inclusion on their individual public sex offender registry web sites.
SMART Develops Registry Options for Indian Country and Territories
Federally recognized Indian tribes must adhere to the same sex offender registration and notification requirements as the states, territories, and the District of Columbia if they elect to function as a registration jurisdiction under Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). As many Indian tribes and three U.S. Territories currently do not have public sex offender registries and may not have the technical resources to create and maintain them, the SMART Office, with assistance from the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), has developed a solution.
The office will provide a centralized sex offender registry to the tribes and territories. The centralized registry, which will be hosted by IIR, will include five web site templates from which tribes and territories can select to create unique, tribe/territory-specific sex offender registry web sites. These web sites also will be hosted by IIR, so tribes will not have to invest in additional equipment to manage them. The web sites will contain all of the functionality required by SORNA: searching, mapping, and geo-coding of sex offenders; email notification signup; and email address searching. In addition, the sites will include a secure sign-in feature so that only properly authenticated users can make modifications.
A database will be created to store the offender data for all tribes and territories that use the centralized registry; this database will store the required registration information set forth by SORNA, section 114. Furthermore, the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website will soon allow users to include Indian tribal offenders in their search results.
To assist tribes and territories in using the web site templates—
- The SMART Office and IIR will provide limited telephone and electronic support to help facilitate initial web site setup.
- IIR will conduct up to four regional training events for tribal and territorial representatives to help them learn about the central tribal/territorial registry system. Each qualifying tribe and territory will be able to send one representative to one of the events.
Guidelines. This SMART Office web page links to the final National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification, the proposed guidelines, and other useful information related to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (e.g., implementation checklist, FAQs).
Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. The SMART Office maintains this web site, which allows users to conduct a single-search query for all currently registered sex offenders residing in the United States.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This Act, which became law on July 27, 2006, comprehensively revises the national standards for sex offender registration and notification that were set forth in the Wetterling Act and subsequent amendments.
Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. This Act, which was passed in 1994, required states, territories, and the District of Columbia to implement a sex offender registry system.
In This Newsletter
- SORNA: Implementation in Indian Country
- Funding for SORNA Implementation
- 2008 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability
- 2008 National Tribal Symposium: SORNA Training for Indian Country