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.