Thursday, October 15, 2009

SORNA: Addressing the Challenges

The SMART Office responds to requests from the field regarding all matters related to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, and various topics related to sex offender management. We seek to foster a well-informed and accurate discussion of SORNA's requirements. Our staff help jurisdictions adopt SORNA provisions by reviewing the legislation a jurisdiction proposes and its existing statutes, policies, and procedures.

Since SORNA's enactment and the development of final guidelines in 2008, we have recognized many challenges that jurisdictions face when implementing the Act. Three major challenges are—

  • Offense tiering
  • Retroactivity
  • Juvenile registration

Offense Tiering

SORNA is generally designed to strengthen the effectiveness of sex offender registration and notification and to eliminate potential gaps and loopholes through which sex offenders could attempt to evade registration requirements or the consequences of registration violations. A common misconception is that SORNA's tiering structure is meant to help predict sexual reoffense and that it supersedes jurisdictions' existing risk assessment processes.

To implement SORNA, jurisdictions do not have to adopt any particular approach to labeling or categorizing sex offenders. A jurisdiction meets SORNA's requirements as long as its sex offenders are consistently subject to the same duration of registration, frequency of in-person appearances for verification, and extent of website disclosure that SORNA would require for offenders convicted of those sex offenses.

Jurisdictions must make certain registration information about tier II and tier III offenders available on their public websites, but may decide to exclude information about some tier I sex offenders.

See pages 21–26 of SORNA's final guidelines for additional guidance.

Risk assessment processes are used in many jurisdictions for various reasons. These include determining the level of community notification required and aiding in making release decisions, filing civil commitment proceedings, structuring treatment programming, establishing supervision intensity, and, in a few instances, determining the duration of a sex offender's registration requirement and in-person reporting frequency. Most current sex offender registrations are triggered by a sex offender's conviction for the crime.

SORNA does not preclude the use of risk assessment tools for community notification purposes, particularly for the more active forms of notification (e.g., community meetings, fliers, door-to-door canvassing). However, to substantially implement SORNA, jurisdictions might need to include a broader class of sex offenders on their public registry websites. In all instances, jurisdictions may use risk assessment tools as a justification for increasing SORNA's minimum notification requirements.

See pages 33–37 of SORNA's final guidelines for additional guidance.

Jurisdictions that use an assessment process to determine the duration of a sex offender's registration requirement and reporting frequency will need to alter their systems to make these requirements dependent on the crime conviction (matching the appropriate SORNA tier requirements). Jurisdictions may use risk assessment methods to increase these requirements as they see fit.


Many jurisdictions struggle with the question of whether SORNA applies to sex offenders convicted before it was passed or before a jurisdiction has substantially implemented it. SORNA's final guidelines limit its retroactive reach. Jurisdictions must register sex offenders who were not required to register prior to SORNA's substantial implementation if those sex offenders are incarcerated, on supervision, or if they later reenter the system because of conviction for some other crime (whether or not the new crime is a sex offense). Jurisdictions are allowed to phase in SORNA registration requirements for these recaptured sex offenders. After a jurisdiction has substantially implemented SORNA, those sex offenders who are subject to retroactive application and who meet the tiering criteria should be registered as such:

  • Tier I: within 1 year
  • Tier II: within 6 months
  • Tier III: within 3 months

See pages 7–8 of SORNA's final guidelines for additional guidance.

It may not always be possible to obtain information about earlier sex offense convictions for those sex offenders reentering the system, particularly when they occurred many years ago and the criminal history information available may be uninformative regarding factors, such as the victim's age, that can affect SORNA's registration requirements. SORNA requires jurisdictions only to rely on the methods and standards they normally use in searching criminal records.

To help, the SMART Office developed a historical archive database of state statutes related to sex offenses, which obviates the need for intensive legal research on a local level. This resource is available on the Exchange Portal, to which the registry officials of all jurisdictions have access.

Juvenile Registration

A common misconception is that SORNA requires jurisdictions to register all juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent for sex offenses. In fact, SORNA requires juvenile registration only if the juvenile was at least 14 years old at the time of the offense and was adjudicated delinquent for committing (or attempting or conspiring to commit) a sexual act with another by force, by the threat of serious violence, or by rendering unconscious or drugging the victim.

Because of the severity of these offenses, these juvenile sex offenders would be categorized as tier III offenders and subject to applicable duration, in-person verification, and community notification requirements.

See page 16 of SORNA's final guidelines for additional guidance.


Whatever the challenges, SMART staff are available to help. By now, all states, territories, and tribes should have received an offer of assistance from their assigned SMART Office policy advisor. If you have questions about SORNA, the final guidelines, or SMART's role, please do not hesitate to contact us.

SMART Office
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
810 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531
202-616-2906 (fax)

"That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

GA - Bible College Cop Accused Of Indecent Exposure

View the article here

See the video at the above link.


ATLANTA -- Police arrested a Carver Bible College police officer on an indecent exposure charge after three women complained that the officer exposed himself in front of them during an off-campus traffic stop.

Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Jones spoke with the women and was the only reporter at the scene as the officer was taken into custody.

The victims, who asked Jones to conceal their identities, said Steven Turner, 28, detained them for almost an hour on Cascade Road. They said that during the traffic stop, Turner made comments about their tattoos and piercings. One of the victims also told Jones that Turner demanded her phone number and later sent five text messages, one of which she said was a picture of his genitals.

"I felt violated. He was wrong," the victim said.

As Turner was being taken to jail, he told Jones that he didn't do what he is accused of doing.

Turner has since resigned from his position at Carver Bible College, according to the school’s president. The president said the college "wouldn’t tolerate this type of alleged behavior."

Turner faces indecent exposure, false imprisonment and distributing obscene material charges.

Turner was booked into the Fulton County Jail.

"That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

Mr Sex Offender's Neighborhood - Won't you be my neighbor?

This is not really about sex offenders. I was going to try to make a point with the video, but could not come up with anything, so I just finished what I had. Anyway, it's funny!

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

Adam Walsh Act, SORNA Unconstitutional

By CFCAmerica

The Federal Adam Walsh Act is Unconstitutional and grossly ineffective in so many ways. This act sends children to a lifetime of banishment for their youthful indiscretions.

SORNA, Sex Offender Registration Notification Act, has been rejected by just about every state in the union. The woman who, by her own words, worked on it for over 3 years was too embarrassed to answer Congressman Scott when he asked if SORNA would send a 19 year old boy to the Sex Offender Registry for Consensual Sex with his High School Sweetheart. The answer is yes, for 25 years he would be on the registry.

The Adam Walsh Act was made retroactive by then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was kicked out of office. Mark Foley, known to have a taste for little boys, was one of the primary writers of the Adam Walsh Act. Mark Lunsford, proven to have Child Pornography on his computers the day his daughter was abducted and murdered by a murderer, but was never charged.. now goes about the nation trying to get money from tax payers to support this abusive law.

WA - Male prostitute & witnesses testify against Pierce County judge

View the article here



Two men testified Wednesday during the trial of Pierce County Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht that they sold sex to Hecht several years ago before he became a judge.

Assistant attorney general John Hillman elicited the testimony from witnesses John Marx and Edward Dean Smith on the first day of testimony.

During cross-examination, Hecht’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, attacked the credibility and memories of both men – who acknowledged they have used methamphetamine – and began setting the stage to show their allegations could not have happened as they testified.

Hecht is charged with a felony count of harassment for allegedly threatening to kill a man and a misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute for allegedly buying sex from another man last year.

He’s pleaded not guilty and contends he’s the victim of a political vendetta by supporters of the man he defeated in the August 2008 election, incumbent Judge Sergio Armijo.

In his opening statement Wednesday, Hillman portrayed Hecht as a frequenter of male prostitutes who trolled downtown Tacoma for years, picking up men and taking them to his North End law office, where he paid them for sex.

Hecht also tried to silence those who know about it so he would not lose his judgeship, the assistant attorney general said.

What the public did not know at that time (he was elected) is that the defendant had a secret, a deep, dark secret that he didn’t want anybody to know about,” Hillman said.

In late August 2008, Hecht threatened to kill Joseph Hesketh IV after hearing Hesketh was talking about his previous prostitution activities with Hecht, Hillman said. Hesketh is scheduled to take the stand today.

The assistant attorney general also told the jury there is evidence Hecht bought sex on a number of occasions from another young man – Joseph Pfeiffer.


Fricke countered during his opening statement that Hecht is an advocate for the homeless whose altruistic activities were turned to nefarious ends by his political enemies.

Hecht told The News Tribune in October 2008 that he often gives money to homeless people or tries to find them jobs.

It’s that contact with these people and his advocacy for these people that put him here today,” Fricke said of his client. “Because sometimes when you’re trying to do the right thing, you end up putting yourself into a situation where people can accuse you of doing the wrong thing.”

Many of the prosecution’s witnesses – including Hesketh – are homeless or drug addicts whose credibility is questionable, Fricke said.

Hecht did confront Hesketh on the street one day in August 2008 to ask whether he was spreading rumors but he certainly did not threaten to kill him, the defense attorney added.

Fricke also said Hecht never bought sex from anyone and that Pfeiffer is an opportunist who tells people what they want to hear rather than the truth.

Hillman then began calling as witnesses people who work or live in the downtown area.

Glenn Grigsby, who lives downtown and belongs to a Safe Streets block-watch group, testified he’d seen men loitering in the area get into Hecht’s car “a hundred times” over the years.

Members of Hecht’s family, sitting together in the gallery, shook their heads at that statement.


Hillman then called Marx and Smith to the stand.

Both men testified under questioning from Hillman that they sold sex to Hecht and that the acts took place at Hecht’s law office on North Pearl Street earlier this decade.

Marx also testified that Hecht contacted him in 2004, when Hecht ran unsuccessfully for judge, and told him to “keep his mouth shut” about their previous relationship. Marx said he took that as a threat.

During his cross-examination of Marx, Fricke suggested the witness had a connection – possibly through his landlord – to attorney Belinda Armijo, the former judge’s wife.

Fricke also peppered Marx and Smith with questions about specific time frames and what they remembered about the inside of Hecht’s office.

Smith testified incorrectly about when he talked to a newspaper reporter about the case – he said it was during summer 2008 when it was December 2008 – and was generally vague about when he and Hecht allegedly had sex.

The two men gave differing accounts of furnishings, floor coverings and other details about Hecht’s office, suggesting one or both didn’t know what he was talking about.

Hillman, given a chance to question Smith a second time, asked whether he was concentrating on such details when he was inside Hecht’s office.

The witness said no.

What was your concern?” Hillman asked.

Getting my money,” Smith responded, “so I could get high.”

Video Link

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

So, whose to blame? The parents, society? I vote the parents!

So, is every child that has sex with these teenagers, on the registry? Today, they would be!

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

IN - Elkhart mom wants sex offenders out of Halloween fun

View the article here

Just more unjustified Halloween hysteria!  Why don't they tell this lady to be a parent and go along with her child, like a good parent would do, if concerned?  In all of history, only ONE case has been documented where a child was sexually abused on Halloween, so this is unjustified! So, how do you know the person you are going up to, is not a person who has committed a sex crime, but has not been caught yet? DANGER, DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!


She wants to protect your kids from saying "Trick or Treat" at the wrong house. An Elkhart mother is teaming up with Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski (Contact) to try to make it illegal for sex offenders to participate in Halloween festivities.

"Fright for Your Right" is the name Elkhart mom Melody Blessing coined for the bill. It would be modeled after a Michigan law that would prevent sex offenders from handing out candy or having Halloween decorations that may lure kids onto their property.

"Trick or Treat." Three short words kids can't wait to say on Halloween. But Elkhart mom Melody Blessing was afraid of her son saying that phrase at the wrong house last year.

"My son was about to go over and get candy and I was like no I don't want my son to go there," said Elkhart mom Melody Blessing.

Blessing says her son was walking over to a registered sex offender's home in her neighborhood while trick or treating.

"I just don't think they should be allowed to pass out candy to kids," said Blessing.
- And I don't think people like you, should be allowed to have children!  I think the boogeyman is in your own head!

And neither does Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski.
- He's in your head as well!  So show me anything that justifies this?  Why aren't parents being parents anymore?  Oh yeah, they are too lazy and want Big Brother to dictate their lives for them!

"When people today call the police and rightly so the police are going to tell you that there's nothing on the books that could prohibit them from allowing kids to go on to that property," said Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski.
- And that is how it should be!

Blessing hopes to change that by presenting a petition signed by concerned parents to lobby to lawmakers for a bill prohibiting sex offenders from participating in Halloween festivities. Walorski's been down this path before after authoring a similar bill a few years ago.

"It was not going to allow sex offenders to advertise they're not going to be able to be involved and have kids come to the door and bringing intentionally vulnerable kids into a predator's property," said Walorski.
- So hmm, why don't the irresponsible parents check the registry before allowing their child out?  Or go along with them?  Be a parent for God's sake, stop trampling on people's rights, just to make you "feel" safe!

That bill did not make it out of the House. But Walorski and Blessing hope that with public opinion the bill will have more weight this time around and will be passed into law.

"I believe there are a lot of parents out there like me that would feel very strongly about this," said Blessing.

Blessing admits that some may say she's unfairly targeting sex offenders who've served their time, but she says she's more concerned about her children.
- Of course she is, she's got to get the brownie points to better her reputation, while violating her oath of office, and stomping on people's rights!  One time in history, in 1975, and that is the only case, of where a child was sexually abused by someone on this night.  It's nothing more than a moral panic.

"It's me as a mom worrying about the safety of my kids," said Blessing.
- Then be a mom, and go with your kids, check the registry beforehand, and don't go to the houses if you are so freaked out!  My Lord, be a parent, instead of a scared stiff person!

Walorski says with enough public support she would be willing to re-file the bill in the state legislature.

Video Link

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

TX - Ex-Lockney cop pleads guilty to sex crime

View the article here


By Tiffany Pelt

LUBBOCK (KCBD) - A former Lockney police officer is now in Brownfield Jail Wednesday night after pleading guilty to a sex crime. The Floyd County jury gave 23-year-old Brandon Welty seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a 16-year old family member from New York.

The Floyd County District Attorney says the girl had been performing a sex act on Welty from August to December. During that time Welty had moved from Terry County to Lockney in Floyd County.

The sexual assault occured in both counties, so now Welty is awaiting trail in Brownfield. There Welty is indicted on two counts of sexual assault on the same girl.

The Terry County District Attorney says that if Welty is convicted there, he could face 2-20 years for these second degree felonies.

The DA also said it was too early to tell, but if found guilty one of two things could happen. Welty's sentences in both counties could be served at the same time, or Welty would have to serve each sentence separately.

Video Link

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved