Message From the Director
Fiscal Year 2012 (October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2012) was an important transition year for the SMART Office. Following the July 2011 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) implementation deadline, the SMART Office expanded its attention to two new activities: (1) establishing a procedure to reallocate SORNA penalty funds to those jurisdictions in which these funds could be repurposed to continue to support SORNA-related investments and improvements; and (2) establishing a system for jurisdictions that had already implemented SORNA to assure the SMART Office that such implementation was continuing and on track. Aside from these new activities, the SMART Office continued to provide focused technical assistance and developed new tools for those jurisdictions that had not yet “substantially implemented” SORNA, with a particular focus on tribal jurisdictions. A number of articles in this edition of SMART Watch describe these SMART Office resources and activities.
The SMART Office also established a new grant program in FY 2012—Promoting Evidence Integration in Sex Offender Management—which solidified the office’s commitment to support the spread of innovative and promising sex offender management programs or practices. The office did this by coupling the funding for specific projects with simultaneous funding for technical assistance to, as well as research and evaluation of, funded programs or practices. With this new program, the SMART Office is responding to the field’s expressed need for new and more effective evidence-based sex offender management programs and practices. This issue includes articles that provide additional information regarding funding activities supporting these and other projects in FY 2012.
As FY 2013 begins, the SMART Office looks forward to being able to continue its progress on SORNA implementation and provide guidance and funding to agencies and professionals nationwide who work every day to keep our communities safe and protected from sexual assault and exploitation.
Linda M. Baldwin
OJP Collaborative Funding
Evidence-Based Practice for Sexual Behavior in Youth: Improving Community-Based Management for Youth, Victims, and Families
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking collaborated to develop the Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems (YSBP) Program. This program targets late childhood and early adolescence for implementing evidence-based, comprehensive management and intervention strategies to address the sexual behavior problems (SBP) of youth as well as studying the effects of SBP on child victims and their families. Targeting this age group for management strategies to address SBP has a high potential for impact.
Efficacious early interventions have been developed and evaluated that target youth with SBP, child victims, and the families of both. These evidence-based practices (EBP) share a common theory base and emphasis on working with parents. However, across the country, these practices are not provided to most youth with SBP, the victims, or the families. Disseminating comprehensive, coordinated EPB for youth with SBP and the child victims in the community is complicated due to unique challenges. Services require coordination of different EBP for youth with SBP and their victims, both of which require active involvement of the caregiver. Furthermore, multiple agency, system, and policy barriers impact referral, access, and engagement in services.
Currently, YSBP programs in California, Nebraska, and New Jersey are working to (a) establish community-based management of youth with SBP, their victims, and the families; and (b) improve the community’s coordination of services through multidisciplinary teams. The programs are YSBP Community Mental Health (Children’s Institute, Inc., in Los Angeles); WISE Families Program (Children's Aid and Family Services, Regional Diagnostic Treatment Center of Newark, and Wynona's House Child Advocacy Center of Newark, New Jersey); and the RSafe 10-14 Project (Lutheran Family Services and Project Harmony, in Omaha, Nebraska).
For more information, please contact Jane F. Silovsky, [email protected], at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Implementation of SORNA in Indian Country
The SMART Office continues to receive an impressive response from Indian Country regarding implementation under § 16925 of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16901 (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006). To date, 134 tribal jurisdictions have submitted SORNA implementation packages. Forty tribal jurisdictions were found to have substantially implemented SORNA, and 102 tribes have public sex offender websites linked to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. The SMART Office continues to provide support and assistance to tribal jurisdictions that have gaps in registration and notification programs or that need assistance in setting up sex offender registration and notification programs.
To that end, and per Section 42 U.S.C. § 16927(a)(2)(C) of SORNA, the SMART Office has discretion to offer additional time to implement SORNA if a tribal jurisdiction is working toward implementation and it is determined by the SMART Office that substantial implementation can be reached "within a reasonable amount of time.” Tribes that were granted additional time in 2012 but have not yet substantially implemented have the ability, until July 26, 2013, to once again request additional time.
In order to grant this additional time, the tribal jurisdiction must provide the SMART Office with the following information and documentation, and must agree to provide monthly updates on progress and any obstacles, including—
- An explanation of obstacles faced in implementing SORNA, including a summary of all efforts made by the tribe to implement SORNA.
- A detailed update on any proposed, pending, or enacted SORNA-related legislation.
- A description of the tribe’s sex offender registry/public sex offender registry website, including whether the tribe intends to use the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System or another system for achieving SORNA’s minimum sex offender registry/public website requirements. For example, if the tribe plans to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the State or locality, the tribe should describe the specific parties and the components of sex offender registration and notification that will be handled by each party.
- If one of the obstacles has been the taking and submitting of data to federal databases, please provide details as to (1) how the tribe will take and submit finger and palm prints to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the FBI, (2) how the tribe will take and submit DNA to the Combined DNA Index System, and (3) how the tribe will submit initial sex offender registration information and updates to the National Crime Information Center/National Sex Offender Registry. If the tribe is facing any obstacles with these submissions, it should provide details about the obstacles and the efforts taken to overcome them.
- A detailed timeline with specific dates that reflect the tribe’s plan to continue to work toward substantial implementation of SORNA. This plan should include all tasks to be completed, the agency or entity responsible for each task, and projected dates for completion of each task, at least referencing what efforts will be made each month of the extended deadline.
- An updated point-of-contact form (in the event of a change in tribal leadership and/or SORNA point of contact).
The SMART Office will review all materials submitted and, if necessary, reach out to tribal leadership to further discuss the tribe’s commitment to substantially implementing SORNA, and determine whether and how much additional time is needed for implementation under the circumstances.
Requests should be sent via regular mail to: Linda M. Baldwin, Director, SMART Office, 810 Seventh St. NW, Washington, DC 20531, via email to [email protected] (include your tribe’s name in the subject line), or via facsimile to 202-354-4200.
Reallocation of SORNA Byrne JAG Funding Penalty
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) set forth a penalty for jurisdictions that failed to substantially implement the Act by the July 27, 2011, deadline and every year thereafter until the jurisdiction is determined to have substantially implemented SORNA. The penalty for States, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia is a 10-percent reduction in funds that would otherwise be allocated to those jurisdictions for the fiscal year under their Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) formula funds. SORNA further provided that the amounts withheld for failure to substantially implement SORNA should be reallocated to jurisdictions that did not fail to substantially implement or may be reallocated to the jurisdictions from which they were withheld, to be used solely for the purpose of implementing SORNA.
In 2011, 15 States and 2 territories implemented SORNA by the initial deadline. Thus, 35 States, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia faced the 10-percent reduction in their Byrne JAG funds. All but five jurisdictions (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nebraska, and Texas) requested reallocations of their penalties to apply toward continuing SORNA implementation efforts. For those States that failed to implement SORNA and did not request reallocation, their penalty funds are held in a trust account and will be dispersed in future years to implementing jurisdictions.
The Assistant Attorney General granted the reallocation requests of all 34 jurisdictions (30 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia), and the SMART Office is currently working with these jurisdictions as they continue their SORNA implementation efforts in conjunction with their reallocated funds. For 2012, 17 States and 3 territories implemented SORNA by the deadline. Remaining are 33 States, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia.
SORNA Substantial Implementation Update: States, Territories, and the District of Columbia
The SMART Office has received and reviewed a tremendous amount of information and material from the States, territories, and the District of Columbia on their progress toward substantial implementation under § 16925 of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16901 (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006). To date, the SMART Office has received and reviewed substantial implementation packages from 39 States and territories as well as numerous partial or preliminary drafts and submissions. The SMART Office has determined that 16 States and 3 territories have substantially implemented SORNA.
SMART Office staff are continuing to assist non-implementing States and territories as jurisdictions work toward substantial implementation. With a focus on each jurisdiction’s particular obstacles to further implementation, staff have spoken to and met with representatives of the legislative and executive branches in many jurisdictions. In these communications, SMART staff have clarified SORNA’s requirements and the steps that each jurisdiction needs to take. In addition, the staff have encouraged jurisdictions to submit proposed legislation, policies, and procedures for legislative consideration so that those jurisdictions may know in advance whether and how the legislation will further their progress toward substantial implementation.
Beyond providing individualized assistance to jurisdictions, SMART Office staff are creating and refining technological tools to facilitate jurisdictions’ further implementation. The SORNA Exchange Portal now has a standardized International Travel Notification form that collects information about a registered sex offender’s international travel plans. Jurisdictions can fill out and submit this form directly from the portal to the U.S. Marshals Service National Sex Offender Targeting Center.
The SMART Office is providing other new and updated tools as well. The office has updated its SORNA Implementation Documents, a series of documents that further define and provide guidance on SORNA’s requirements. Specifically, SMART Office staff have updated documents—for the submission of fingerprints and palm prints, and for collecting information on sex offenders traveling internationally—to comport with the updated protocols. In addition, the SMART Office released a document this summer, titled Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues. This document provides an overview of sex offender registration and notification laws in the United States as well as SORNA’s requirements regarding registration and notification. In so doing, it reviews the significant federal and State legal decisions pertaining to sex offender registration and notification and, in particular, SORNA’s requirements.
Finally, the Government Accountability Office issued a report in February 2013 that details the work of the SMART Office and the jurisdictions’ efforts to implement SORNA. It is available for review at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-211.
For more information about how the SMART Office is assisting jurisdictions registering with SORNA, visit the SMART Office website.
International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group
Over the past 5 years, the SMART Office has worked tirelessly to create a tracking system for sex offenders who depart and reenter the United States. The SMART Office established the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group (IWG) in 2008. As a member of IWG, the SMART Office has continuously strived to create better connections between federal agencies and has worked to improve communication from State, local, tribal, and territory law enforcement to federal law enforcement about offenders who plan to travel internationally. In so doing, we are closer than ever to having a thorough system for tracking sex offenders who travel internationally.
The automatic notification procedure described in the original International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group: White Paper has now received final approval from the director of the FBI, and its implementation is now in progress. Once its implementation is complete, local registering agencies and the National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC) will receive an automatic notification from the National Sex Offender Registry whenever a registered sex offender is screened by the Department of Homeland Security upon entering or departing the United States.
Registry officials are reminded to take advantage of the International Travel Form on the SORNA Exchange Portal to submit detailed information directly to the NSOTC about an offender’s intended international travel.
Finally, the Government Accountability Office issued a report in February 2013 that details the overall work of IWG. It is available for review at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-200.
On December 6, 2012, the SMART Office launched the third revision of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The new version of the site includes better graphics, a simpler layout, more intuitive navigation, and fresh content. The new site provides for an improved user experience regardless of the type of device accessing the site. NSOPW will now dynamically adjust to various screen sizes, greatly improving the usefulness of the site from smartphones and tablets. The site also includes a revised education and prevention section, a page dedicated to Dru Sjodin, and a link to an NSOPW page that provides instructions for linking to NSOPW in a much more appealing way.
One thing that has not changed in the new version of NSOPW is the site’s focus on national sex offender searching. NSOPW is still the only national sex offender search site that connects the public to registered sex offender information directly from the registration jurisdictions (States, U.S. territories, Indian tribes, and the District of Columbia). The search function has been improved by providing search results using an enhanced layout, dynamic loading of records to speed up results, and utilizing browser tabs so users can view multiple offender records at one time.
Visit NSOPW at www.nsopw.gov. To link to NSOPW on an agency or company website, please go to www.nsopw.gov and follow the instructions.
On December 3, 2012, the SMART Office created an NSOPW Facebook page to raise awareness about NSOPW and to provide important education and prevention information to the public. The SMART Office decided to leverage the popularity of Facebook to proactively inform the public of information about sexual offenders so that people can protect themselves and their loved ones from potential victimization.
Since its launch, the NSOPW Facebook page has increased in popularity. When on Facebook, please “like” NSOPW. Each time the page is liked or its content is shared, more people are made aware of its availability and thus people become more knowledgeable about sexual abuse awareness and prevention.
SORNA Exchange Portal
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Exchange Portal has become an integral part of the nationwide implementation of SORNA. The SORNA Exchange Portal is now used by 44 States, 3 U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 134 Indian tribes to share valuable information about registered sex offenders.
One of the most important functions of the SORNA Exchange Portal is for jurisdictions to notify each other about relocating sex offenders. The number of relocations posted on the portal has steadily increased from month to month because of increased adoption by the SORNA jurisdictions. An average of more than 500 offender relocations per month were posted on the portal during 2012, with a total of 6,133 for the year. This is a dramatic increase over the 1,619 relocations that were posted on the portal in 2011.
The functionality provided on the SORNA Exchange Portal is continuously expanded to meet the needs of the jurisdictions using it. Throughout the past year, major and minor enhancements have been added to make the portal a more valuable resource for the sex offender registry personnel who rely on it every day. Authorized users of the portal can view a list of completed and scheduled enhancements in the Portal Enhancement List section on the portal’s home page.
Sex Offender Registry Tool
The Sex Offender Registry Tool (SORT) continues to be made available to jurisdictions that want a fully customizable, SORNA-compliant sex offender management system and public registry website. Seven jurisdictions have capitalized on the availability of SORT, and four of them are now operating customized versions of SORT as their official sex offender management systems. The other three jurisdictions are in the process of customizing SORT and should be deploying it very soon.
Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System
The Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System (TTSORS) has now been available to Indian Country and U.S. territories for 4 years. During that time, TTSORS has received numerous improvements, most of which are based on recommendations from users, and it is now much more comprehensive and user-friendly than it was when released in January 2009.
TTSORS has seen a steady increase in usage, and it is currently the sex offender management system and public registry website for 133 Indian tribes and 2 U.S. territories. Further, 97 Indian tribes and 2 U.S. territories are participating with NSOPW through their adoption of TTSORS.
In the summer of 2011, the SMART Office recognized that information sharing between SORNA jurisdictions about relocating sex offenders needed to be improved beyond just the SORNA Exchange Portal. Many jurisdictions have so many offenders relocating in and out of their jurisdictions that a way to automate this information sharing was needed.
In the summer of 2011, the SMART Office, through its grantee, began inviting representatives from various jurisdictions to participate in a working group called the SORNA Information Sharing Working Group (SISWG). The purpose of SISWG was to develop an information exchange standard for relocating sex offenders through which technical systems could exchange information without human intervention. This type of information exchange is being used in various capacities throughout the criminal justice community. It has become so popular that a framework called the Global Reference Architecture (GRA) has been developed to govern the creation of these exchange standards.
In October 2011, the first SISWG meeting was convened with policy and technical staff attending from the following jurisdictions: California, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the United States Marshals Service. The working group met for 2 days and discussed various issues regarding the sharing of sex offender relocation information between jurisdictions. The discussion was led by GRA subject-matter experts with vast experience in developing system-to-system information exchanges that conform to current U.S. Department of Justice standards.
The information provided during the meeting was documented in a Service Specification Package (SSP) and presented to the SISWG members during a conference call in December 2011 as the first draft of the SORNA Inter-jurisdiction Relocation Service (SIRS). The working group members provided additional information during a review process, and a second draft of the SSP was released in January 2012.
In March 2012, the second SISWG meeting was convened for the technical representatives only. During this meeting, a test implementation of SIRS was demonstrated, and the attendees discussed how to implement it in their own environments. Attendees were asked to determine what would be needed to participate in a pilot project in which multiple jurisdictions would implement SIRS in their own test systems to further validate the exchange’s capabilities and the thoroughness of the documentation provided.
Since March 2012, SIRS has been deployed in several test systems, so more documentation could be written to support the jurisdictions implementing it. The SORNA Exchange Portal is currently being enhanced so that it, too, can participate with SIRS. Once this is completed, jurisdictions will have a choice between continuing to use the portal as their only means of sharing sex offender relocation information with other jurisdictions, either manually or through the web services, or implementing SIRS and having access to the automated information exchange. All information about relocating sex offenders, regardless of the method used, will continue to be available to all other jurisdictions through the portal.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the SMART Office released solicitations for several of its ongoing grant programs:
FY 2013 Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program
In FY 2013, the SMART Office continues support for implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, through posting of the SMART Office FY 2013 Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program solicitation.
FY 2013 SORNA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Program
The SMART Office is seeking applications for funding under the SMART FY 2013 SORNA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Program. This program will focus on providing targeted training and technical assistance to tribal jurisdictions that have opted to become SORNA registration jurisdictions, with an emphasis on hard-to-reach and underserved tribes.
FY 2013 Maintenance and Operation of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website
The SMART Office is pleased to announce that it is seeking applications for funding under the SMART FY 13 Maintenance and Operation of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). This program will focus on providing the public with immediate access to sex offender registration data from public sex offender registries operated by States, territories, the District of Columbia, and certain federally recognized Indian tribes.
Fiscal Year 2012 Funding
In FY 2012, the SMART Office awarded $13.69 million in funding to 56 jurisdictions for the purpose of supporting the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, specifically Subtitle A of Title I, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Grantees awarded included 23 States, 1 territory, and 32 tribes; more than $7.18 million went to tribal grantees. These awards provided support and assistance including, but not limited to, developing sex offender registries; assisting with guidance on policies and procedures for registration; enhancing infrastructure to assist implementation of SORNA, such as collection, storage, submission, or analysis of sex offender biometric data (finger and palm prints) and DNA; providing support for coordinated interagency efforts to enhance implementation of SORNA requirements; and developing and implementing training for law enforcement and other criminal justice agency personnel responsible for sex offender registration, notification, and monitoring.
The SMART Office awarded $2.15 million to implementing sites to support its FY 2012 Promoting Evidence Integration in Sex Offender Management: Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS) training and technical assistance program and evaluation. SOTIPS, developed in 2001 by the State of Vermont, is a 16-item dynamic risk scale to aid clinicians and community supervision officers in identifying and monitoring the supervision and treatment needs of adult sex offenders. In partnership with the National Institute of Justice, the SMART Office sought two jurisdictions interested in implementing SOTIPS in an effort to replicate previous study findings and further evaluate the effectiveness of this model of risk assessment. The SMART Office also awarded funding for a SOTIPS training and technical assistance grantee to provide consultation to the chosen evaluator and implementing sites on developing a data collection database, and to provide instruction on administering and scoring the tool as well as consultation on study design, data collection instrumentation, and database design.
In addition, the SMART Office awarded $871,000 to project sites to support its FY 2012 Promoting Evidence Integration in Sex Offender Management: Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) and through Training and Technical Assistance competitive solicitations. The COSA model is a supervision strategy involving the use of community volunteers to support an individual sex offender in garnering community resources while holding them accountable to their self-monitoring plan (typically, following completion of legal supervision). Under this funding opportunity, the SMART Office supported two project sites and a technical assistance provider to assist in the development and implementation of the COSA model.
In an effort to promote innovation and best practices in the field of sex offender management, the SMART Office awarded $150,000 for its FY 2012 Fellowship Development Program to focus on enhancing the capacity of the office to provide technical assistance and support to State, local, and tribal jurisdictions on multidisciplinary issues across the various program offices in the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women. This includes exploring and building a foundation for integrating victim-centered approaches, and identifying experts, research, practices, and programs related to sexual assault and victim services.
The SMART Office continues to support the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) with grant funding. The office issued a supplemental award of $898,842 in FY 2012 to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research for maintenance and operation of NSOPW.
In This Newsletter
- Implementation of SORNA in Indian Country
- Reallocation of SORNA Byrne JAG Funding Penalty
- SORNA Substantial Implementation Update: States, Territories, and the District of Columbia
- International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group