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 GetSMART@usdoj.gov.
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).