Model Tribal Code for SORNA

Prior to passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in 2006, tribes were not included in national sex offender registration laws. Title I of the Act, SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act), provides that non-PL 280 tribes could elect to function as sex offender registration jurisdictions. Of the 212 eligible tribes, 197 elected to do so and are working to substantially implement the requirements of SORNA. Many tribes will develop and host their own sex offender registry public websites.

The SMART Office provides a free web-based public registry and community notification system, the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System. Because this is a new area of focus, many tribes do not have laws or codes that address sex offender registration. Since the passage of SORNA, the SMART Office has frequently received requests for model or template code language from tribal leaders, tribal prosecutors, and tribal law enforcement.

In November 2008, in response to these requests, the SMART Office convened a working group of respected Indian lawyers from throughout the country to work on a model code that tribal governments could customize and implement. The following individuals participated in the working group:

  • Joshua J. Breedlove, Staff Attorney for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

  • M. Brent Leonhard, Deputy Attorney General for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

  • Pablo H. Padilla, Attorney at Law.

  • Sarah Deer, Professor, William Mitchell School of Law.

  • Maureen White Eagle, Attorney with the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

  • Hallie Bonger White, Attorney and Executive Director for the Southwest Center for Law and Policy.

  • Michelle Rivard, Associate Director, Tribal Judicial Institute, University of North Dakota School of Law.

  • Sarah Brubaker, Prosecutor for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

  • Virginia Davis, then Associate Counsel for the National Congress of American Indians.

The SMART Office released the model code in April 2009. Although tribes are not required to use the code's language, it is SORNA compliant and provides an excellent starting place for tribal leaders who are creating legal language and authority to substantially implement SORNA.

Visit the SMART Office's Indian Country web page to access the model code.

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