SMART Office Highlights
The past year has been full of activity for the SMART Office. Jurisdictions continue to make great strides toward implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). In particular, Indian tribes have accomplished a significant amount of work in implementing SORNA to keep their communities safe and informed. Over the past year, 1 State and numerous tribes have been added to those that have met the threshold for substantial implementation, bringing the current tally to 17 States, 3 U.S. territories, and 69 Indian tribes. Almost all of the remaining jurisdictions continue to work toward SORNA’s goals of information sharing and cooperation between and among all States, tribes, and territories as well as internationally in regard to registered sex offenders.
Of those States and territories that had not yet implemented by the most recent SORNA implementation deadline (July 2013), the SMART Office again collaborated with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to reallocate SORNA penalty funds to requesting jurisdictions, which will use them in support of SORNA-related activities and improvements. Thirty-six jurisdictions did not substantially implement SORNA by the last deadline and will receive the statutorily mandated 10-percent penalty in their Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funding; 29 of these jurisdictions applied for reallocation: Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The SMART Office continues to refine a system for oversight of jurisdictions that had already implemented SORNA to ensure that SORNA implementation is maintained as required by the statute. Aside from these activities, the SMART Office continued to provide focused technical assistance and tools, resources, and training 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.
One of the largest collaborations between the SMART Office and SORNA jurisdictions occurred during the 2014 SORNA Workshops. The workshops enabled registration jurisdictions to gather and learn from federal, State, tribal, and local partners about sex offender registration and notification issues and to share information and practical tips and advice. They also gave jurisdictions an invaluable opportunity to meet with their neighboring State or tribal registry officials to discuss border-to-border issues.
The SMART Office also established a new grant program in FY 2013, the Campus Sexual Assault Perpetrator Treatment Pilot Project, which continues the SMART Office’s commitment to support the development of innovative and evidence-based sex offender management programs or practices. The office continues to collaborate with the National Institute of Justice to research the effects of SORNA and with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems Program. With these new and continuing programs, the SMART Office is responding to the field’s expressed need for effective, evidence-based sex offender management programs and practices. We’ve included articles in this issue that provide additional information regarding our funding activities supporting these and other projects in FY 2013.
The SMART Office looks forward to continuing our progress on SORNA implementation and to providing guidance and funding to agencies and professionals nationwide who work every day to keep our communities safe and protected from sexual assault and exploitation.
Spotlight on Indian Country
SORNA Implementation in Indian Country
Update on Substantial Implementation
The SMART Office continues to receive an impressive response from Indian Country regarding implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Sixty-nine tribal jurisdictions have substantially implemented SORNA. The remaining SORNA tribal jurisdictions continue to implement changes to their codes, policies and procedures, and other implementation activities to meet SORNA’s requirements. In addition, 130 tribes have public sex offender websites linked to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The SMART Office works with all of these tribal jurisdictions on implementation issues and provides technical assistance for the tribes in developing and enhancing their sex offender registration and notification programs.
Native American Sex Offender Management Project
The Native American Sex Offender Management (NASOM) project, a component of the SORNA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Program, identifies best practice resources for the treatment, management, and reentry of Native American adults and juveniles who have committed sex offenses.
NASOM Project goals include identifying programs and tools used in juvenile and adult sex offender treatment and management services particular to Native American sex offenders and identifying and interviewing sex offender management experts and service providers in tribal communities. NASOM also includes an Indian Country forum at which identified experts gather to develop recommendations on how the SMART Office can assist in developing and enhancing treatment, management, and reentry tools for Native American adults and juveniles who have committed sex offenses.
The project will look at sex offender-specific tools, training, and reentry efforts by tribes that have substantially implemented SORNA, tribes that are in the process of implementing SORNA—including those that are just getting started, and tribes that are not eligible to implement SORNA. As part of the design, the project will develop a protocol for interviewing and recording interviews with key stakeholders.
Tribes and local counties that are interested or involved in the reentry of Native American adults and juveniles who have committed sexual offenses should contact:
Devin J. Rieckmann-Sell, Program Coordinator
National Criminal Justice Training Center, Fox Valley Technical College
The SMART Office has received and reviewed a tremendous amount of information and material from the States, territories, and the District of Columbia about their progress toward substantial implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16925(a) (Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006). To date, the SMART Office has received and reviewed full substantial implementation packages from 39 States and territories and conducted preliminary reviews or analyses of proposed legislation from 10 additional States and territories. The office has determined that 17 States—Colorado being the latest—and 3 territories have substantially implemented SORNA. For information on tribal jurisdictions, see SORNA Implementation in Indian Country in this issue.
Numerous tools and resources from the SMART Office are available to further jurisdictions’ work toward SORNA implementation:
- Technical assistance: SMART Office staff are available to clarify SORNA’s requirements, analyze existing or proposed code and policy, and meet with stakeholders, either remotely or in person. Documents: Multiple documents are available on the SMART Office website that may assist jurisdictions as they work to implement SORNA:
- Implementation Documents address certain SORNA requirements such as juvenile registration, community notification, and homeless offenders.
- The SORNA Implementation Checklist outlines, element by element, SORNA’s specific requirements.
- Other helpful resources can be found on the SMART Office’s SORNA Tools and Newsletters & Publications webpages.
- The SORNA Exchange Portal is equipped to transfer registration information about sex offenders from jurisdiction to jurisdiction when offenders relocate, and 53 of the 56 non-tribal SORNA jurisdictions (States, territories, the District of Columbia) are now responding to offender relocation tasks.
- The Sex Offender Registry Tool (SORT) is a free sex offender management application provided by the SMART Office. SORT serves a dual purpose: it provides local registration agencies with their own specialized public sex offender registry websites and it functions as the State-level administrative registry system.
In 2008, the SMART Office established the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group (IWG) to track registered sex offenders who enter and depart the United States. More than 25 IWG member agencies and offices are working to create this comprehensive tracking system, including representatives from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, State, Defense, and Justice. The tracking system proposed by IWG is fully described in the IWG White Paper (2010), and a detailed report on its status was issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2013.
To comply with the SORNA Supplemental Guidelines issued in 2011, registration jurisdictions must (1) require offenders to report any intended international travel 21 days in advance, and (2) notify the U.S. Marshals Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC) of that intended travel. Working in conjunction with other IWG members, the SMART Office and NSOTC have issued an International Travel Form, the most current version of which is available on the SORNA Exchange Portal. Registry officials can electronically submit international travel information to NSOTC using this form.
In addition, IWG has worked tirelessly with the FBI to create an automatic notification system that would provide an automatic message to the registering agency as well as NSOTC whenever U.S. Customs and Border Protection screens a registered sex offender for entry to or departure from the United States. The concept of the system has been approved by the Director of the FBI, and the SMART Office continues to work with the FBI to refine its parameters so that implementation can occur.
Registry officials are encouraged to use the International Travel Form, and the SMART Office is available at any time to assist with the drafting or implementation of code or policy to enable the collection of international travel information from registered sex offenders.
The SMART Office announces the addition of two new staff to its team: Victoria Jolicoeur and Yahya Fouz.
Victoria Jolicoeur is a Program Specialist in the SMART Office. Ms. Jolicoeur manages SMART Office grant programs, including the Adam Walsh Implementation Act grant program. In addition to managing grants, she also works closely with policy advisors to assist States with the implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Previously, Ms. Jolicoeur served as a Contract Administrator for the U.S. House of Representatives, overseeing a multimillion dollar mail contract working with Representatives and U.S. House leadership on digitizing and streamlining the mail process. Before that position, Ms. Jolicoeur worked with the SMART Office as a Grant Program Specialist for several years managing grants and cooperative agreements. In addition, she has worked as a management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and Huron Consulting Group, where she provided advice and assistance to clients on improving business processes. Ms. Jolicoeur received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Long Island University and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Keller Graduate School of Management.
Yahya Fouz is a Senior Policy Advisor in the SMART Office. He evaluates and assesses sex offender registration and notification management systems in Indian Country to determine whether they have substantially implemented SORNA.
Before joining the SMART Office, Mr. Fouz was an Assistant District Attorney for the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. He prosecuted DNA-based prosecutions and a range of violent felonies, including gang-related shootings, home invasions, and conspiracy to murder. Mr. Fouz also handled cases involving child victims and witnesses, including child endangerment and physical and sexual abuse.
Mr. Fouz has also served as staff attorney for the National District Attorneys Association’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. He assisted prosecutors throughout the country on various legal issues pertaining to child physical and sexual abuse, including shaken baby syndrome and computer-facilitated crimes against children.
During law school, Mr. Fouz was a judicial extern to the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer of the Ohio Supreme Court, reviewing appellate briefs and drafting bench memoranda on legal topics ranging from commercial paper to criminal sentencing guidelines. Mr. Fouz received his bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and Middle East studies from the University of Virginia and his juris doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where he was a member of The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Mr. Fouz is a member of both the Ohio and New York Bar.
To promote innovation and best practices in sex offender management, the SMART Office has funded two fellowship positions. An FY 2012 fellowship was awarded to (1) enhance the SMART Office’s capacity to provide technical assistance and support to State, local, and tribal jurisdictions and to build a foundation for integrating victim-centered approaches, and (2) identify experts, research, practices, and programs related to sexual assault and victim services. An FY 2013 award was made to assist the office in focusing on ways to broaden programming designed to improve the prevention of, and education about, sexual violence and victimization in our communities.
Victim Considerations in Sex Offender Management
Derek VanLuchene was awarded a SMART Office fellowship in FY 2012 to bring awareness to other federal departments and nonprofit agencies about the office’s overall mission and activities and to better understand the assistance—and gaps in assistance—that victims of sexual violence receive. Additionally, Mr. VanLuchene is collecting information about the impact of sex offender reentry on victims, families, and communities to develop best practices for victim considerations in sex offender reentry using a multidisciplinary approach.
Mr. VanLuchene is also gathering information on sex offender reentry in Indian Country and its impacts on communities and victims through his participation in the American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence federal working group. He is also researching the impact of Montana’s Bakken Oil Boom on sexual abuse and assault. Specifically, he is looking at the impact on the criminal justice system as a result of the upswing in population and crime.
Sexual Violence Prevention
Joan Tabachnick was awarded a SMART Office fellowship in FY 2013 that focuses on sexual violence prevention efforts within the office and within the U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Tabachnick will work with SMART Office staff to collect, distribute and, where necessary, develop the resources needed for professionals, advocates, and families working to prevent the perpetration of sexual violence.
Ms. Tabachnick’s fellowship will progress through multiple phases: defining prevention in the context of sexual violence, gathering research on evidence-based programs through literature reviews and interviews with experts, collaborating with other DOJ and federal government partners, and developing a prevention toolbox for dissemination. In the final phase, Ms. Tabachnick will compile a final report of the various products developed throughout the fellowship, which will provide key recommendations and offer suggestions as to how the SMART Office can broaden its scope in sexual violence prevention and education. Key to these recommendations and suggestions is how they will fit into the landscape of programs and initiatives already in existence. Finally, the report will take the recommendations and suggestions and provide a roadmap for future programming, opportunities, and implementation of each prevention strategy.
SMART Tools: New and Updated
This summer, the SMART Office will unveil two exciting products that will enhance the public’s ability to receive information about registered sex offenders and will improve the way jurisdictions share information: a new mobile app and a rewritten SORNA [Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act] Exchange Portal.
The SMART Office will release a Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) mobile app, compatible with Android and Apple iOS devices, that will be a companion to the existing NSOPW website. In addition to name-based searches, users will be able to conduct searches within a ¼-mile, ½-mile, or 1-mile radius based on their location. Results will be available in map and list views. To ensure that the NSOPW app provides the most accurate results possible, jurisdictions are encouraged to input full address information into NSOPW, including latitude and longitude, if they are not currently doing so. Just like the current NSOPW site, the app will rely on the information provided by participating jurisdictions and the searching capabilities they allow. Currently, 24 States and the District of Columbia provide full offender address information with latitude and longitude. Seven more States are planning to provide location information in the near future.
In December 2012, the SMART Office launched the NSOPW Facebook page. Since that time, the page has continued to increase in popularity. Information is posted constantly, covering issues such as sexual abuse awareness, victim support, protecting children online, and tips about using NSOPW. As of August 5, 2014, the NSOPW Facebook page has had 1,990 likes, a total reach of 6,334 people, and has had its posts viewed 23,035 times. In the most recent 3 months, the page has received 319 likes, while posting 33 items of interest.
The SORNA Exchange Portal is being rewritten to remove its dependency on Microsoft SharePoint, and the revised portal will be released late this summer. The portal provides all SORNA jurisdictions with information-sharing capabilities. Jurisdictions can create alerts about sex offenders who are relocating, share information about their jurisdictions, request information about sex offenders, and create and reply to discussion board topics. Since the SORNA Exchange Portal was created in July 2008, it has received so many enhancements and customizations that the original framework for the site is no longer feasible. The revamped portal will be flexible, easily customizable, and simpler to navigate. Prior to launch, jurisdictions will be able to participate in online training sessions so they will be ready when the revised portal goes live.
SMART Grant Programs
The SMART Office 2013 Program Plan includes continued provision for the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program. In addition, the SMART Office released funding opportunities and collaborated with other bureaus and program offices in the Office of Justice Programs to support jurisdictions’ Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) implementation activities and to identify and support evidence-based sex offender management programs.
Since FY 2007, the SMART Office has awarded more than $65 million through the Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program to assist States, territories, and tribes that are implementing SORNA’s requirements. To date, 315 awards have been awarded to SORNA jurisdictions through this program, of which 142 were tribal awards. Funds have been used on various projects, such as improving jurisdictions’ IT infrastructure, purchasing equipment necessary to transfer registry information, digitizing criminal history records, training registry officials, and hiring personnel and consultants to help develop SORNA-compliant registration and notification programs.
In FY 2013, the SMART Office awarded $13.28 million in direct funding to 47 jurisdictions under the program. Grantees included 28 States, the District of Columbia, 3 territories, and 15 tribes. Funds granted to tribal jurisdictions in FY 2013 represented 28 percent of all funds granted and 32 percent of all awardees.
A solicitation for FY 2014 has already been issued and is now closed; 65 applications were eligible for review, representing 25 States, 3 territories, and 37 tribal jurisdictions. It is anticipated that FY 2014 SMART Office grants will be awarded by September 30, 2014.
Since 2008, the SMART Office has supported the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), which the Adam Walsh Act directed be maintained by the Attorney General to allow the public to obtain information about registered sex offenders from a single website. In FY 2013, the SMART Office competitively bid a discretionary award of $825,563 to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research for maintenance, enhancements, and operation of NSOPW. In FY 2014, the SMART Office issued an invitation to apply to the Institute of Intergovernmental Research in the amount of $899,478, which closed on April 3, 2014. It is anticipated that this opportunity will be awarded in fall 2014.
In 2008, the SMART Office awarded more than $4.36 million to support juvenile treatment programs targeting different age groups in residential and nonresidential settings. Since FY 2010, in collaboration with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office has supported the Youth With Sexual Behavior Problems program, an innovative model for delivering evidence-based, comprehensive management and intervention strategies to address the sexual behavior problems of youth. In FY 2013, the SMART Office awarded $1 million to provide (1) technical assistance to up to two new sites implementing this model, (2) support and funding for a training and technical assistance provider, (3) support for a technical assistance website, and (4) a process/implementation evaluation of the program. In FY 2014, the SMART Office will award up to $900,000 to provide additional technical assistance to project sites, including one tribal jurisdiction, for prevention and treatment efforts in this area.
In FY 2013, the SMART Office awarded $1 million through its SORNA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Grant to provide critical training and technical assistance to tribal jurisdictions working to implement SORNA. The SMART Office will continue to provide this assistance through the FY 2014 award to Fox Valley Technical College in the amount of $500,000. These additional funds will be used to document SORNA implementation in Indian Country. This project will assist in furthering the goals of SORNA and the SMART Office by building a foundation for future implementation and outcome studies in Indian Country.
In FY 2013, the SMART Office highlighted the need to continue to support evidence-based practices in sex offender management by providing additional funding to existing Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS) project sites and to its training and technical assistance provider. The SMART Office awarded $99,980 to two SOTIPS project sites to support data collection and training activities and $110,000 to its SOTIPS training and technical assistance provider to ensure correct application of SOTIPS and support for the project.
In FY 2014, in a continued partnership with the National Institute of Justice, the SMART Office provided $1 million to assess intrajurisdictional information sharing about registered sex offenders. Though empirical research on sex offenders has grown over the past decade, no study has examined the multifaceted elements of registration laws generally, or SORNA specifically—in particular, SORNA’s primary goal of inter- and intra-information sharing about sex offenders. This partnership will establish research that not only describes SORNA’s functionality but also answers the question of whether information-sharing systems within and among registration jurisdictions have improved.
Also in FY 2014, the SMART Office issued a discretionary competitive solicitation entitled “SMART FY 14 Campus Sexual Assault Perpetrator Treatment Pilot Project” in the amount of $1.5 million to create a treatment curriculum for campus perpetrators of sexual assault and pilot test the curriculum on one or more college campuses. It is anticipated that this opportunity will be awarded in fall 2014.
In addition, in an effort to further promote innovation and best practices in sex offender management, the SMART Office awarded up to $150,000 through its FY 2013 Fellowship Development Program. See SMART Fellowships in this issue for more information.