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Sex Offenders

Special Feature
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The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, significantly revised the national standards for sex offender registration and public notification.

SORNA’s standards built on and revised prior legislative actions, including the Jacob Wetterling Act, Megan’s Law, and the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act.

Under SORNA, the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking was established within the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.

The SMART Office provides jurisdictions with guidance on implementing SORNA, and provides training and technical assistance to states, territories, Indian tribes, and local governments. The SMART Office also administers grant programs related to the registration and management of sex offenders, as well as notification of the public about offenders’ whereabouts.

SORNA also established the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), a public safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide, linking each jurisdiction’s public registry site in one searchable location. The site is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and state, territorial, and tribal governments working together for the safety of adults and children.

SORNA extended the definition of “jurisdiction” to include federally recognized Indian tribes, requiring them to establish sex offender registration and notification systems, or delegate that function to the state where their lands are located. Including tribes as SORNA jurisdictions increases public safety both on and outside tribal lands and enables better information sharing among law enforcement agencies about tribal and non-tribal sex offenders.

To address the unique challenges tribes face in information sharing and accessing federal databases — which impacts law enforcement and public safety in Indian Country and across the United States — SMART was an original funder of the Tribal Access Program, which provides tribes the ability to access and contribute data to national crime information databases.

As part of its funding efforts, the SMART Office supports projects that review and expand the current body of knowledge on sex offenders. Under the Sex Offender Management and Assessment Planning Initiative, the office supported an analysis and summary of current research on sex offenders and sexual offending, including etiology, recidivism, and treatment. The office has also supported assessments of research on the impacts of sex offender registries.

Visit the following pages for resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: