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)1 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.

1 "Courts of Indian Offenses" refer to courts operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on some reservations. Because these courts operate under regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, they are often referred to as "CFR courts."

  • Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Grant Program
    The CASOM Grant Program assists state, local, and tribal jurisdictions . . . arrow More
  • SORNA Implementation Documents
    In April, the SMART Office issued a series of 13 SORNA Implementation Documents . . .  arrow More
  • Process for Denial, Revocation, or Limitation of a U.S. Passport
    Sex offenders' passports are often surrendered or their international travel is restricted . . .  arrow More
  • Software Tools Needs Assessment
    To help jurisdictions substantially implement SORNA's information sharing and data collection requirements . . .  arrow More
  • Update on SMART Technical Tools
    Review this article for updates on SORT, TTSORS, the SORNA Exchange Portal, and NSOPW . . .  arrow More