The federal government yesterday published in the Federal Register proposed changes to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The changes encompass a total of 93 pages and include a wide range of topics, including retroactivity, tier levels, professional licenses and travel (both domestic and international). Replies to the proposed regulations are due no later than October 13, 2020.
According to the proposed regulations, SORNA will apply to all individuals convicted of a sex offense, including those convicted before it was enacted. The federal government claims to have this authority due, in part, to the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Smith v. Doe, which declared that registration did not constitute punishment, but was instead merely an administrative requirement.
“Because the proposed regulations include so many pages citing their authority to apply SORNA to individuals convicted before it was enacted, it appears that they are concerned that this matter could be challenged in court,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “It is possible that ACSOL or another like minded organization will do so.”
According to the proposed regulations, SORNA requires all registrants to comply with its requirements “regardless of whether a registration jurisdiction has substantially implemented SORNA.” This statement is important because currently only 17 of the nation’s 50 states have substantially implemented SORNA.
The proposed regulations repeat that the federal government places registrants in three tiers. Those assigned to Tier 1 must register for 15 years while those assigned to Tier 2 must register for 25 years. Individuals assigned to those tiers may reduce their period of registration based upon a list of factors. Individuals assigned to Tier 3, however, must register for a lifetime.
The proposed regulations require additional information regarding employment, including whether a registrant has one more professional licenses.
“If the proposed regulations are adopted, we can expect the federal government to notify states that have issued a professional license to a registrant,” stated Bellucci. “We are concerned that the states will, in turn, revoke those licenses.”
According to the proposed regulations, individuals will be required to notify their local registration office if they leave the jurisdiction for seven days or longer. This requirement is proposed allegedly in order to protect children who reside at the location(s) where a registrant may visit.
The proposed regulations also address overseas travel for those subject to the International Megan’s Law. Specifically, the regulations will require registrants to provide additional information to the federal government regarding their overseas travel such as whether they have dual citizenship and/or a passport issued by another country.
“ACSOL began its discussion of the proposed regulations on the same day they were published,” stated Bellucci. “ACSOL will formally reply to the proposed regulations as an individual organization or in collaboration with like-minded organizations.”
Any individual that would like to volunteer to work with ACSOL on this effort should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org