We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

The Adam Walsh Act: SORNA Implementation, Impact, and Advocacy Efforts - An Update


Passed by Congress in July, 2006, the federal Adam Walsh Act includes Title One -- the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Designed to create uniformity in how all individuals convicted of sex offenses are registered and notified upon publicly, the SORNA is a strict mandate to U.S. states, tribes, and territories for how they must create or change their sex offender registration systems to achieve compliance by a final deadline of July, 2011. As of March, 2011, only four states, one U.S. Territory and two Indian tribes have complied with the SORNA; this means that 46 states, 194 Indian tribes, and four U.S. territories have so far defied the federal mandate to comply with this law that, purportedly, was designed to make communities safer from the threat posed by released sex offenders. Few additional states and tribes are expected to meet the July, 2011 deadline.

What are the reasons for this jurisdictional non-compliance? First, the SORNA includes a number of controversial issues, not least of which is whether or not the system it maps out is effective as a public safety measure. Major “sticking points” for U.S. jurisdictions include the SORNA’s demand for retroactive inclusion of sex offenders who were never, or are no longer, included in a jurisdiction’s registry, and the call for use of a sex offender tiering system based on offense of conviction rather than actuarial risk assessment.

Beyond the policy, philosophical and public safety issues identified by jurisdictions, there are also numerous practical and economic barriers to implementing the SORNA. Most significantly, jurisdictions are finding the cost of implementation insurmountable in the current economic crisis facing the United States. Additionally, jurisdictions do not necessarily have the manpower, technology, and systems necessary to meet all of the demands posed by the SORNA Guidelines, nor the time or resources to meet the final deadline for implementation.

In addition to all of these challenges faced by states, Indian tribes face an even steeper climb to implementation. Most tribes have never before implemented and utilized a sex offender registry. In many cases, not only does the registration system demanded by the SORNA stand counter to tribal approaches to crime and justice, but even more troubling is that the SORNA, as written, is at risk of violating tribal sovereignty in a number of ways. While legislative remedies to the most problematic issues posed by the SORNA are being crafted by tribal entities and other concerned organizations, tribes will need much more time to comply with the SORNA’s demands.

For the remainder of this paper
: by Alisa Klein, M.A.I.P.S., Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers -AND- Amy Borror, M.A., Office of the Ohio Public Defender

No comments: