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SMART Watch Dispatch, January 2016

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
2 pages
This issue presents a brief overview of the requirements that must be met by Indian tribes in order for them to adopt enhanced sentencing as authorized under the Tribal Law & Order Act of 2010 (TLOA), with attention to possible ramifications for implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Prior to the TLOA, tribes were limited to imposing sentences up to 1 year imprisonment, fines up to $5,000, or both. Tribes that implement enhanced sentencing may impose sentences up to 3 years imprisonment, fines up to $15,000, or both. The decision to enact enhanced sentencing is a tribe's choice; however, in order to exercise enhanced sentencing, a tribe must meet certain requirements for the tribal justice system. This issue of dispatch focuses on the potential effect of tribal enhanced sentencing on a tribe's SORNA programs. Because tribal courts were previously limited to imposing sentences of only 1 year in jail, tribes were given the option of categorizing all tribal sex offenses as Tier I offenses, regardless of the seriousness of the offense. Under enhanced sentencing, however, if a tribe chooses to apply it to its registerable sex offenses, there will be an increased financial impact on the tribe because of the monitoring requirements for Tier II and Tier III serious sex offenders, who require additional personnel and resources. When considering the scope of enhanced sentencing, tribes should review their codes, policies, and procedures in relation to the tiering of tribal offenses, so as to ensure they continue to meet the minimum standards of SORNA.

Date Published: January 1, 2016