SORNA Implementation Update
Most SORNA jurisdictions are working diligently to implement the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) in advance of the final statutory deadline established by Congress. Those states and territories that have not substantially implemented SORNA by July 27, 2011, will face a statutorily mandated 10-percent reduction in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) formula funds. Tribes that have not substantially implemented SORNA by the deadline may face delegation of their sex offender registration and notification responsibilities to the state in which they are located.
The SMART Office has added staff, increased outreach efforts, and issued a series of documents to provide further definition, guidance, and direction to SORNA jurisdictions. Additionally, supplemental guidelines have been proposed that address, among other things, public notification of juveniles adjudicated delinquent for serious sex crimes, posting of sex offender information (e.g., email addresses, Internet identifiers), and reporting of international travel requirements. The SMART Office expects that these new developments will further assist jurisdictions in meeting the requirements of SORNA within the statutory deadline.
This issue of SMART Watch highlights these new developments and provides an update on the status of SORNA implementation in the registration jurisdictions. This article provides information on SORNA extension requests and the status of implementation in the states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes that have elected to implement SORNA.
SORNA Extension Requests
As of July 27, 2010, 237 registration jurisdictions requested and received a second and final 1-year extension (to July 27, 2011) to substantially implement SORNA. This number includes the 47 states that have not yet implemented SORNA, the District of Columbia, 5 principal U.S. territories, and 184 Indian tribes that have also not yet implemented SORNA. The full list of jurisdictions is available here.
Status of Implementation in the States, D.C., and U.S. Territories
As of July 27, 2010, three states—Delaware, Florida, and Ohio—had substantially implemented SORNA. Of the remaining 53 jurisdictions, 14 had submitted formal substantial implementation review packages to the SMART Office. These submissions follow a prescribed format, which is outlined on the SMART Office website. Five of these reviews are pending with the SMART Office, and the remaining nine jurisdictions have received feedback from SMART on the changes they need to institute to substantially implement SORNA. These 14 formal submissions are considered "works in progress" and in each case a dialogue between SMART staff and jurisdiction policymakers regarding how the jurisdictions may be able to address these changes is ongoing.
The SMART Office has also conducted preliminary reviews based on materials submitted by 33 of the 39 remaining jurisdictions. These preliminary reviews consist of analyses of proposed or pending legislation, assessments of administrative policies and procedures, comparisons of offense statutes with SORNA tiering, and reviews of potential constitutional conflicts with aspects of SORNA implementation (e.g., retroactive application). SMART Office staff members maintain a moderate to high level of contact with policymakers and registry officials in each of these jurisdictions and anticipate formal submissions for substantial implementation review in the coming year.
The SMART Office has been in contact with the six remaining jurisdictions that have not yet submitted materials and representatives from those jurisdictions have participated in symposia, workshops, or in-person meetings with SMART Office staff. Additionally, information received from these jurisdictions through the extension request process indicates that they will be addressing SORNA implementation in the coming year.
Status of Implementation in Indian Country
Since the last issue of SMART Watch, the SMART Office has dedicated substantial effort to substantial implementation in Indian Country. As of July 27, 2010, two tribes—the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation—had substantially implemented SORNA. In addition, 1 tribal substantial implementation package and 10 submissions of preliminary materials are currently under review in the SMART Office.
Efforts to engage with and provide technical assistance to the remaining tribes that opted to be SORNA registration jurisdictions have included letters, emails, phone calls, and site visits to various locations. The SMART Office has also enlisted the assistance of the National Congress on American Indians for help in contacting tribes about the submission of extension requests. The results of these efforts have been positive—the vast majority of tribes (184 out of 190) have been granted an additional year to explore options to achieve substantial implementation and/or to enter into agreements with the states in which they are located to provide support for their efforts. Information received from many of the tribes through the extension request process provided SMART with details about tribes' plans for implementing SORNA on their lands in the coming year.
In June 2010, SMART Office staff engaged in tribal consultation sessions regarding the proposed SORNA supplemental guidelines. An onsite consultation session took place in Rapid City, South Dakota, which was supplemented by a series of telephone conference calls with tribal representatives. These sessions provided tribal leaders and others with opportunities to comment on the proposed supplemental guidelines and ask questions about SORNA implementation.
The SMART Office continues to be available to provide specialized support to tribes and is working to engage additional technical assistance providers in order to reach as many eligible tribes as possible.
Spotlight on Indian Country
Since the passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), the SMART Office has developed tools, resources, and guidance to assist tribal jurisdictions in their implementation of SORNA. DNA Submission by SORNA Tribal Jurisdictions
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires DNA samples to be taken from sex offenders for purposes of analysis and entry into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Some states are working with tribal jurisdictions that have elected to implement SORNA to help procure, preserve, and submit DNA samples from sex offenders for entry into CODIS and to complete all of the requisite follow-through that occurs on a match between an offender and a forensic profile, or "cold hit." Where such cooperation and coordination is possible, SORNA tribal jurisdictions should include memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements, regarding DNA submissions as part of their substantial implementation submission to the SMART Office.
Some states, however, are precluded by state statute, regulation, or policy from accepting and processing DNA samples directly from tribal law enforcement entities. Because of this, the SMART Office has worked with the FBI DNA Database Unit to establish a federal "work around" wherein eligible tribal jurisdictions may submit DNA directly to the FBI DNA Database Unit. Tribal jurisdictions that choose to use this federal submission process must be able to take DNA samples according to the directions and standards set by the FBI and complete the required FBI form, which must include, among other items, data on each sex offender's conviction and personal information, two fingerprints, and agency contact information. The procedures for taking the sample must be followed diligently and all submissions must be complete to ensure that the submissions can be tested and the data entered into CODIS. The FBI provides the DNA sample kits free of charge to SORNA tribal registration jurisdictions.
Tribal agencies should be aware that a sex offender DNA submission could result in a cold hit and that follow up, validation, investigation, and cooperation with other investigation agencies—including the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, state and local law enforcement, and tribal police—may be necessary. The FBI has developed a training video and a PowerPoint presentation that tribal jurisdictions should review before working with the DNA Database Unit.
It should be noted that contracting with a private laboratory is not sufficient for DNA submission for sex offender registration because private laboratories cannot submit their DNA profiles to CODIS. Furthermore, there is no need to retain samples; samples should be taken and submitted for analysis.
For information on training, how to order DNA collection kits, or other matters regarding DNA collection and submission, please contact the FBI DNA Database Unit at 703-632-7529.
2011 SORNA Workshop
The SMART Office is pleased to announce that our 2011 National Workshop on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) will be held on January 11, 2011, in the District of Columbia at the Renaissance Marriot Hotel. This full-day workshop will cover any necessary topics or issues before the upcoming July 2011 SORNA implementation deadline. Space is limited; therefore, attendance is by invitation only. There is no registration fee.
We are offering two scholarships to the primary individuals responsible for SORNA implementation in each SORNA registration jurisdiction. All scholarships will cover the cost of airfare and lodging. Electronic invitations with scholarship information were mailed on July 14, 2010. If you have questions, contact us through [email protected].
New SMART Program Specialists
The SMART Office announces the addition of two new staff to its team: Juli Ana Grant and Samantha Opong.
Juli Ana Grant has been with the SMART Office since May 2010. Before joining SMART, Ms. Grant worked for the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to her federal posts, Ms. Grant was the manager of sex offense management and domestic violence programs and the Tribal Justice Exchange Project at the Center for Court Innovation, where she—
- Oversaw development and implementation of sex offense management programs and specialized sex offense courts.
- Oversaw the development of domestic violence courts in New York State and provided technical assistance to states on domestic violence issues to help design and develop protocols, research projects, service plans, resources, and techniques for documenting results.
- Served on the Tribal Justice Exchange Project team, where she—
- Worked to ensure that tribal communities had access to training and ongoing technical assistance related to problem-solving, community-based practices.
- Encouraged formal collaborations between traditional tribal justice systems and state and local court systems.
- Identified and disseminated best practices developed in Indian Country.
Prior to her work at the center, Ms. Grant was the director of victim services overseeing crisis intervention, social services, restitution, and childcare services for victims of crime in Brooklyn criminal, community, and supreme courts; the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office; and the Brooklyn Family Justice Center.
Samantha Opong recently joined the SMART Office as a program specialist in July 2010. Prior to joining the SMART Office, Ms. Opong worked as a professional staff member for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives. In this capacity, Ms. Opong assisted in hearing preparation through research and logistics. Before joining the committee, Ms. Opong worked as a staffer in a congressional office where she made policy recommendations and organized panel discussions that centered on the correlation between mental health and youth violence. As a social worker, Ms. Opong worked for more than 9 years with homeless families and victims of child and sexual abuse. Her work encompassed both direct services and policy formation. Ms. Opong began her career as a case manager for a homeless shelter in New York, where she worked with child victims of sexual abuse. She has developed educational programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. While working at a homeless shelter, Ms. Opong also developed an aftercare program that helped former homeless families adjust and reintegrate into society. Ms. Opong earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a master of social work from Howard University.
Proposed SORNA Supplemental Guidelines
On May 14, 2010, the SMART Office published the proposed Supplemental Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification (75 Fed. Reg. 27632 (2010)) to put forward a number of changes in existing Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requirements and, in one case, to make SORNA conform with subsequently passed federal law. The proposed supplemental guidelines address the following areas:
- Juveniles: The public posting of information about juveniles adjudicated delinquent of SORNA-eligible sex offenses would be discretionary at the option of the registration jurisdiction rather than mandatory.
- Retroactive application: Currently, jurisdictions are required to "recapture" four classes of offenders into their registration systems: offenders who are currently incarcerated, on probation or parole, presently registering as sex offenders, or who come back into the criminal justice system based on a new criminal conviction of any kind. The proposed change would limit recapture in the last category—sex offenders who incur new convictions of any kind—to offenders who are convicted of a new felony offense.
- Registration requirements: Sex offenders would be required to notify their resident jurisdiction of their intent to travel internationally 21 days prior to such travel, except in certain circumstances as spelled out in the guidelines. In addition, jurisdictions would be required to keep an electronic copy of any signed "notice" form of an offender's responsibilities to register and keep the registration current in a jurisdiction.
- SORNA Exchange Portal: Pursuant to the requirements of SORNA, the SMART Office developed a software tool that enables immediate communication among all SORNA registration jurisdictions. The proposed guidelines would require jurisdictions to regularly check the SORNA Exchange Portal to ensure that they receive messages sent by any other jurisdiction.
- Ongoing implementation: The proposed guidelines make it clear that the duty to implement SORNA is ongoing and, to ensure that continued implementation, the SMART Office is authorized to conduct annual reviews of jurisdictions' registration and notification systems in conjunction with their Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) applications.
- Newly recognized tribes: From time to time, tribes become federally recognized and, in some cases, would be eligible to opt in as a SORNA registration jurisdiction. The proposed guidelines outline the process and timeline by which a newly recognized tribe might become a SORNA registration jurisdiction.
- Internet identifiers: SORNA's Final Guidelines mandated the registration of Internet identifiers, and that mandate was made statutory by the KIDS Act in October 2008. However, the KIDS Act went a step further and specifically prohibited the posting of a sex offender's Internet identifiers on a jurisdiction's public sex offender registry website. The proposed guidelines bring SORNA into conformity with that statutory requirement.
2010 National Symposium and Workshop
The 2010 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability was held May 18–20, in Portland, Oregon. The symposium provided three tracks on sex offender management topics. The symposium was held in conjunction with the National Workshop on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), which provided jurisdictional representatives with advanced training to help them work toward implementation of SORNA.
In addition to presentations and discussions related to SORNA implementation, the symposium offered nationally recognized expert speakers and panel presentations in various areas of sex offender management and accountability, including the following:
- Comprehensive approaches to sex offender management.
- Indian Country specific sex offender management issues.
- Research and policy considerations.
- Dynamics of sexual offenders and offending.
- Deception detection.
- Information sharing across jurisdictions and disciplines.
- Forensic interviewing of child abuse victims in Indian Country.
For more information about the workshop and symposium, please visit the SMART Office website.
Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Grant Program
Administered by the Office of Justice Programs since 1998, the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management (CASOM) Grant Program assists state, local, and tribal jurisdictions in improving their adult and juvenile sex offender management policies and practices by—
- Critically examining existing approaches to monitoring and managing this population.
- Identifying significant gaps and needs in these policies and practices.
- Developing strategies to address those needs.
CASOM Grantee Projects
In 2008, the SMART Office began managing the CASOM program and highlighted this method of sex offender management at the 2010 National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability. Since 2008, SMART has awarded 23 CASOM grants to 16 states, 3 tribes, 2 localities, and 2 technical assistance organizations to support communities in building capacity across disciplines to further this innovative approach. Some projects target underserved and under-resourced areas (e.g., rural law enforcement, community corrections agencies), others focus on a particular subgroup of offenders (e.g., juveniles who commit sex offenses), and still others provide training on the use of assessment tools. Tribal projects focus on multidisciplinary team development and systems planning. Many projects have addressed training needs for professionals who manage sex offenders at state and local levels, whether it be introductory training for newly hired law enforcement or community corrections personnel or advanced training for those professionals working with specialized sex offender caseloads.
CASOM Training Opportunities
The SMART Office funded a national training and technical assistance program to increase knowledge in the field about CASOM. The training is designed for all those involved in managing adult sex offenders and juveniles who commit sexual offenses. This 2-day, basic training emphasizes the importance of collaboration and systemwide planning that promotes community safety. Training topics include an overview of the comprehensive approach, what we know about sex offenders and their victims, and how to manage the risks and needs of offenders. Sex offender assessment, registration, treatment, and monitoring and public education and collaboration are covered in the training.
In addition to this basic training, a tribal-specific training curriculum—Enhancing Community Safety in Indian Country Through Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management—was developed to address sex offender management in Indian County with a specific focus on those tribes that have elected to become sex offender registration and notification jurisdictions pursuant to Section 126 of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. The tribal-specific training sessions have been provided to tribal government, law enforcement, courts, probation, and victim services and non-tribal law enforcement representatives.
State and local training sessions provided under this grant began in April 2010 and will continue through 2011. To learn more about upcoming events, please visit the CASOM Grant Program website.
SORNA Implementation Documents
In April 2010, the SMART Office issued a series of 13 SORNA Implementation Documents that discuss implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) and the policies of the SMART Office. These documents can be broken down into two categories for the purposes of discussion: clarification and additional guidance.
Seven of the documents address topics that were covered either by SORNA itself or the National Guidelines of 2008. For various reasons, however, some SORNA requirements remained unclear. These seven implementation documents seek to clarify SORNA's requirements regarding—
- Achieving substantial implementation.
- Instituting community notification.
- Using risk assessment tools.
- Registering homeless and transient offenders.
- Capturing the text of the registration offense.
- Determining which military offenses require registration.
- Determining tribal election, delegation, and right of access.
The remaining six documents concentrate on topics that required additional guidance above and beyond what had previously been spelled out in SORNA and the National Guidelines of 2008. Speaking broadly, the documents address topics in three different areas:
- Tribal considerations. The implementation documents clarify the following policy matters:
- Tribes that receive Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funds will not be subject to the "double penalty" of a loss of 10 percent of those funds in addition to the delegation of their registration, notification, and enforcement functions to the state.
- Tribal convictions from CFR courts (Courts of Indian Offenses) must be included in any jurisdiction's registration scheme.
- States must provide details about their efforts and collaboration with federally recognized tribes within their boundaries as part of their substantial implementation submission.
- Tribes and states are encouraged to enter memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for various forms of information sharing under SORNA.
- Tribes and states are each responsible for registration functions on the land that is subject to their respective law enforcement jurisdiction.
- SORNA registration requirements. The implementation documents provide additional information about two significant parts of the SORNA registration scheme:
- The in-person verifications called for by SORNA (quarterly, biannually, or annually) may be accomplished by alternative means as approved by the SMART Office. The document suggests four possible alternatives that a jurisdiction may want to consider in overcoming its challenges with interim in-person appearances.
- The details for collecting fingerprints and palm prints are spelled out in great detail, as well as the manner in which they may be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's central databases as required by SORNA.
- Byrne JAG reduction. The implementation documents specify exactly when and how a non-implementing jurisdiction would suffer the Byrne JAG penalty.
- Registration officials are encouraged to review these documents in detail and share them with any other appropriate officials who may be interested, such as grant administrators or tribal government liaisons.
- These implementation documents are living documents and will be revised on an as-needed basis. The most current version of the implementation documents will always be on the SMART Office website and the documents themselves are dated in the lower left-hand corner.
Process for Denial, Revocation, or Limitation of a U.S. Passport
Many times a sex offender's passport is surrendered—or international travel is restricted—as part of bond or sentencing in the case. However, that sex offender will still be able to obtain another passport, unless law enforcement takes additional steps.
The principle reasons for passport denial are—
- A federal or state arrest warrant for a felony.
- A court order, condition of parole, or condition of probation that forbids departure from the United States.
The SMART Office has developed a fact sheet to explain the procedures that law enforcement must follow to revoke or limit the passport of a U.S. citizen.
Software Tools Needs Assessment
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires that jurisdictions develop and maintain a public sex offender registry website as well as share sex offender registration information with other SORNA registration jurisdictions. SORNA also directs the Attorney General to "develop and support software to enable jurisdictions to establish and operate uniform sex offender registries and Internet sites," and requires that jurisdictions participate in the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.
To help jurisdictions substantially implement SORNA's information sharing and data collection requirements, the SMART Office developed the following software tools, which are available at no cost:
SORNA Exchange Portal. Helps jurisdictions share information in their sex offender registries, including information about offenders who are relocating.
Mapping and Geo-Coding. Allows jurisdictions to conduct SORNA-required geographic radius searches for sex offenders.
Community Email Notification System. Enables users to register an email address and choose to be notified when a sex offender moves within a certain geographic radius or ZIP Code of the physical address provided.
Sex Offender Registry Tool. Assists states in implementing the SORNA registry system requirements of the Adam Walsh Act by providing local registration agencies with their own specialized public sex offender registry websites and functioning as the state-level administrative registry system.
Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System. Is specifically tailored for Indian tribes and U.S. territories that have elected to implement SORNA. With a customizable public website and a private administrative website for managing sex offender information, this tool effectively removes the technical difficulties of implementing SORNA's requirements.
In the coming weeks, the SMART Office will reach out to registry contacts to assess jurisdictions' software and technology needs as the 2011 SORNA implementation deadline approaches. The assessment will address the variety of tools that have been developed for jurisdictions and the technical assistance needs that correspond to each.
Update on SMART Technical Tools
The Sex Offender Registry Tool (SORT) version 1.0, a sex offender management application provided at no cost to assist states in implementing the SORNA registry system requirements, was released on August 6, 2010, and can be downloaded from the SORNA Exchange Portal. To access the application, log on to the SORNA Exchange Portal and click the "SORT Application" link on the left-side navigation menu. The portal folder contains the SORT application files, an implementation and configuration guide for installing SORT, and a comprehensive user manual that explains SORT's features.
The Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System (TTSORS), a web-based registry and public website software tool available to tribes and territories free of charge, will be receiving some new and exciting features in the next few weeks that will make it even more useful to the jurisdictions that use it. Some of these new features are—
- An offender summary bar at the top of every offender information form that shows an image of the offender with important registration information.
- An advanced search that allows administrative users to conduct criteria-based searches by physical descriptive fields (e.g., scars, tattoos), address fields, and more.
- "Is Current" checkboxes that enable historical information to be stored and designated as not current so it is not shown on the public website; administrative users can still see the historical information.
In March 2010, the SMART Office held a one day, all expenses paid training session on TTSORS in Tulsa, Oklahoma; future sessions will take place in Billings, Montana, at the end of August and in Arizona in October 2010. Please contact the SMART Office if you are a representative from a tribal jurisdiction and are interested in attending the Arizona event: [email protected].
SORNA Exchange Portal
The SORNA Exchange Portal now includes web service interfaces that allow jurisdictions to fully integrate the Offender Relocation Task function into their existing sex offender management systems. By using these web service interfaces, jurisdictions can assign new offender relocation tasks, view offender relocation tasks that have been assigned to them, and mark their offender relocation tasks as complete.
The SMART Office is continuing its efforts to help states submit more information to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). Currently, only Louisiana, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Indiana are providing the information NSOPW needs to expand the information and search features it provides to the public. As a reminder, NSOPW needs the following offender information so that it can enhance the information it provides to the public:
- First, middle, and last names, including aliases.
- Complete home, work, and school addresses, including county and latitude and longitude.
- Date of birth.
- Compliance status.
- URL to the offender details record on your jurisdiction's site.
- URL to the offender's image.
The additional fields will allow NSOPW to provide address-based searching, thumbnail images on the search results page, and date of birth or current age on the search results page.
For more information, please access the "NSOPW Participation Requirements" document located on the SORNA Exchange Portal.
In This Newsletter
- 2011 SORNA Workshop
- New SMART Program Specialists
- Proposed SORNA Supplemental Guidelines
- 2010 National Symposium and Workshop