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ACSOL and Allies Submit Formal Response to Proposed SORNA Regulations

[ACSOL]

Today 10 legal professionals from six different states submitted a formal response to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding proposed SORNA regulations that could adversely affect the daily lives of almost one million people required to register as a sex offender.  The response is 36 pages long and includes a request that the federal agency issue revised regulations and allow for additional comments from the public in the future.

“ACSOL and its allies have prepared a comprehensive response to the proposed SORNA regulations,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “The federal government now has an important decision to make, that is, to ignore the responses it has received and issue a final regulation or to change the regulations in accordance with those responses.”

The ACSOL and Allies response includes the following major points:

  • Clarify that a registrant’s duty to act under SORNA is triggered only by interstate travel or other circumstances supporting federal jurisdiction.
    Elimination of the requirement that registrants report their intended departure from or termination of residence in a state prior to interstate travel.
    Clarify that a registrant’s compliance with SORNA is a two-party transaction that depends upon his state’s acceptance of the information provided by the registrant.
  • Eliminate the proposed regulations shifting of the legal burden from the government to the registrant regarding “affirmative defenses” such as a registration office’s refusal to register an individual more than once a year.
  • Eliminate the requirement to disclose “remote communications identifiers”.
  • Eliminate the requirement to report unspecified information with “whatever definiteness is possible under the circumstances.”
  • Clarify that the reduction in the duration of registration obligations for Tiers 1 and Tiers 3 are automatic.
  • Conduct a federalism assessment to quantify the financial burden of the obligations upon states and local governments.

The legal professionals who worked on this effort include attorney Adele Nichols of Illinois, attorney Chance Oberstein of California, attorney Jill Sanders of New York, attorney Richard Gladden of Texas, attorney Janice Bellucci of California, law professor Ira Ellman, Amber Vlangas of the Restorative Action Alliance, Guy Hamilton Smith of Kentucky, Tara Ellman of California and Carlton Morse of California.

Download a PDF of comments by ACSOL to Proposed Rule – Dkt. No. OAG 157 – Oct. 12, 2020

 

Join the discussion

  1. JC

    Was there any mention of the Tiers mandated at State level (such as the CA Tiered Registry) versus the Tiers mandated at the federal level?
    Under the Sorna regulations MANY more registrants would be placed in Tier II and III which would include home and work addresses on ML.

    • SR

      It’s a mixed bag given how CA tiered registry is currently structured. Yes, something like 288’s would move up under SORNA, but pretty much all 311 would move down. One huge shift is 311.11 which would go from CA’s tier 3 to SORNA tier 1. What’s worse, is that it currently seems like the states registry and SORNA are independent of each other and registrants would have to follow both. For example, your time could end under one but not the other. This is a huge mess that if really forced on states whether or not they “substantially implemented SORNA”, it’ll result in a ton of lawsuits from most states.

    • Janice Bellucci

      @JC – Yes, we asked the federal government to clarify what level of government (local/state/federal) would be responsible for tiering. One of our concerns is that the U.S. Department of Justice issued reports in 2016 regarding the sex offender laws in every state and what tier the federal government believes is appropriate. For CA, there is a “mixed bag” in that the report states that anyone convicted of PC 288(a) is assigned to Tier 3. If that happens, more than 40,000 people in CA would be required to register four times a year for the rest of their lives. The only group that might benefit is comprised of individuals convicted of offenses involving illegal images (also known as child pornography or CP). The federal government would assign those convicted of CP possession to Tier 1 and those convicted of CP distribution/production to Tier 2. We hope that everyone convicted of a CP offense will remember that we are lobbying state legislators to adopt the federal guidelines in the Tiered Registry Law for those convicted of a CP offense. We will continue lobbying for that until the legislators do what we are asking for. Please remember that It took almost 7 years to get a Tiered Registry bill in CA and it may take 7 more years to move CP offenses down to Tiers 1 and 2.

      • JC

        Janice,
        Thank you for that detailed response. Is there any info on the 2016 DOJ report about 647.6a misdemeanors?

        • SR @ JC

          Unless SORNA is changing something, any offense that isn’t punishable by more than a year incarceration is considered a misdemeanor and is Tier 1. They have a section in the guidelines explaining this with examples such as all Native American territories sex offense laws being a year or less behind bars, thus SORNA will treat all their convictions as misdemeanors and placed on tier one. And if you have multiple such offenses, it still doesn’t change it. They provide an example here as well: For example, you have 3 such offenses with each carrying under a year max sentence, and you were ordered serve 6 months for each consecutively, resulting in 18 months total. But because each of them independently caps out at one year max, SORNA would still place this person into tier 1. So since 647.6a is a misdemeanor with no more than a year behind bars, it should be Tier 1.

        • JC

          Thank you for the reply.

  2. JohnDoeUtah

    One could argue that a requirement to continuously try to register, when exempted under state law, would be likened to a probation/parole condition. See, United States v. Neel, 641 F. App’x 782 (10th Cir. 2016).

    In this case, the offender was exempt from registration under the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision; however, the federal judge ordered him as part of his federal FTR probation conditions to attempt to register every 90-days and if refused, to provide the proof of refusal to federal probation officers to avoid being violated.

  3. AERO1

    Once you’re forced to register your life is pretty much over so I dont understand why the federal government needs to step in and apply even more pressure/punishment with SORNA to every one’s lives the state of California dont need any help keeping their boot on sexofenders necks .
    Only time will tell how California new teir laws will go or how DOJ will handle the whole situation one thing we do know is that alot of SB384 changes were done behind closed doors at the last minute in order to get the bill passed they had to sacrifice a certain type of sexofender mostlly one’s labeled SVP’S pedophiles and habitual offenders so to please the California politicians theses offenders have been handed over for life time punishment.
    The registry in California is way to big and impossible to manage and i know its costing California alot time and money monitoring offenders who were convicted 20/35 years ago I’m pretty shore its boring as hell putting on all that tactical gear just to go knock on a 75 year old man’s door to see if he’s home and once the offender is found in compliance they have no more power over the registrant and have to get in their cars and leave sounds like a bunch of wasted time and California is over it .So if the federal government wanna take over the monitoring of sexofenders and is gonna fit the bill then so be it.

  4. Joe123

    Well done everyone that helped and contributed to the public comments!

    We did what we could do. Now let’s hope that the people that are making decisions there have brains and common sense in their heads.

  5. David

    😁 I submitted my (layman/non-lawyer) comments to the USDOJ this evening.
    (At the time I submitted my comments, the USDOJ had received 650+ comments.) 👍

  6. David

    NOTE: The Federal Regulations website indicated the USDOJ had received 790 comments to their proposed Rules prior to the 11:59 p.m. EST Comment Submission Deadline.

    • Janice Bellucci

      @David – It is good news that 790 responses were submitted to the proposed SORNA regulations. We can only hope that the federal government reads and carefully considers each and every response resulting in revised regulations that will also be available for public comment.

  7. Brandon

    I live in a SORNA compliant state and I had family as well as friends submit comments. Smith vs. Doe was the biggest failure of the start of the 21st century. It’s time for registrants to have their civil rights and life restored to sanity. SORNA should be Stop Oppressive Restrictions Never Again!!

  8. TS

    @ACSOL/Janice

    Besides Oregon and yourself, did any other SOL/Voices organizations submit comments? If so, can they be gathered so they can be read? Would be interesting to read them.

  9. Hostage in Texas

    I live in Texas. I came off paper in 2014. My offence was settle in court in 2004. I received 10yr. deferred adjudication probation. completed successfully. I am designated as “Low Risk” i.e. tier 1. Burt, my charge was agg sex assault of a child. First degree felony. In Texas a deferred adjudication once completed is dismissed by the judge as a non conviction by state statute. However, I am still required to register annually for life! If this SORNA modification goes through, and I am sure it will, will I be reclassified as a SVP and have to register every 90 days? My contract was with the state of Texas not the feds. I think this could be successfully challenged in court. I can see a class action suit. there are 100,000 registered citizens in Texas. Shout out to Richard Gladden. I live in your area. Lets sharpen the blades! If this comes down I am leaving the country……..if they will let me……

    • Mack McCurry

      Dear Hostage,

      I’m with and almost in the same boat except my charge was not aggravated. I pray everyday that WE will prevail, hopefully before I’m dead!

      Capt.

  10. HopingForHope

    Basic question for Janice. If they go ahead and make these proposals law, what happens next? Tens of thousands of us will fall under new Sorna requirements, but if our state is non-SORNA, how will that work?
    Even if the state IS SORNA, does that make this automatic? Do we immediately commit a federal crime of FTR by default if we don’t figure out a way to comply? Sounds like that’s what they want.

    • Janice Bellucci

      @HopingForHope – There are no answers to your questions. The uncertainty that could result if these regulations are made final could be their biggest challenge.

      • Ditto

        Another rock in the hard place.

        A Regulatory Rush by Federal Agencies to Secure Trump’s Legacy

        With the president’s re-election in doubt, cabinet departments are scrambling to finish dozens of new rules affecting millions of Americans.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/us/politics/regulatory-rush-federal-agencies-trump.html

        • Janice Bellucci

          @Ditto – I strongly recommend that everyone read the article linked in your comment because it provides the “big picture” regarding how the current administration is attempting to issue many new regulations at this time just in case Trump is not reelected. According to that article, there is a law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) which may or may not allow the next Administration to stop the regulations. I will now start to research the CRA to see if we can use it to challenge the regulations in court if they are finalized.

        • JohnDoeUtah

          @Janice

          Makes you wonder if any of the SORNA rules are valid. According to the CRA a rule is not effective until the day after it is officially submitted to Congress.

          Could the retroactivity rule be invalid?

        • Tim in WI

          Ditto, About the regs proposed.
          Truckers hours- Very soon truckers will be losing jobs to computer controlled driving mechs.
          Biometric data- As if its any different from DNA signature or finger \ hand prints.
          If Congress makes law its almost not challenged constitutionally without effect first fruited! But importantly: To what end?

        • TS

          This an interesting article by the NYT. Again I say, US v Gundy SCOTUS decision recently is key in this method being usable. If Congress can delegate this authority, as they have to the AG, then they can take it away possibly by the CRA (not to be confused with the Continuing Resolution Authority (CRA) used when budgets are not passed and enacted by the FY New Year (Oct 1)) or maybe pull it back altogether by removing the delegation authority.

          Remember, the high court said they would look at this again in a future challenge to this authority, if a case was brought forth, but some on the high court did not feel a registrant case was the best avenue to do so. I hope this particular apple is getting ripe to be challenged and take on this authority again.

        • w

          @Ditto

          …Republicans are putting forth a “constitutional originalist” on the supreme court. It should be plainly obvious what’s REALLY going on.

          Prosecutor in chief Harris is going to help secure Biden’s legacy and pack the courts. Wasn’t it the 1994 crime bill he coauthored that put many black defendants in jail and 100,000 cops on the streets? Yeah, Biden’s the guy to thank for the system that resulted in the mass incarceration we have today. Does BLM know about that?

          Thankfully, there are good judges trying to help defendants. Because what’s happening is akin to predatory chess players. The district attorneys are rigging the game against the accused.

          So before you blame Trump and the republicans let’s not forget who and what state we have to thank for both the useless Megan’s law and the preposterous Marsy’s law. Kamamamala is only tagging along to keep spreading the democrat’s Kalifornia Korruption. Even though many states have already been infiltrated by these laws there are also many others that have wised-up and resisted.

          So Kalifornia needs some “divine intervention”. And maybe worse.

  11. TS

    Someone awhile back mentioned these are outgrowths from Epstein. Could be. Could also be because SCOTUS reaffirmed the AG power delegated by Congress in US v.Gundy. They’re running with it.

    • Jacob

      I thought none of this was punishment. Feels a lot like it to me. I recently applied to Postmates after losing my great job during the Pandemic only to be denied based on my background check. However, nothing showed on my background check except the information in the Registry. I thought according to law in CA they are not supposed to use that in there determination in job applications. Really sad how this country has become. If I was not barred from the Philippines, I would move there TODAY since I have friends there and the cost of living is noting compared to here. SMH

  12. Berdoo

    Janice – What is he earliest possible date that this could become regulation?

    A good thing to know for those of use that are thinking about legally leaving the land of the free and the brave.

  13. cd

    so if i have a 288 a lewd n lascivvious, from 1988 calf were does that put me on the sorna fed tier????

    • GRR

      you’re screwed… I moved to Nevada in 1995 and was assessed by the state as a level 1 with a 288(a). (1 was the lowest level of 1, 2, or 3). When Nevada adopted the SONRA ACT a few years back I would have been reassigned to level 3 of SONRA. That meant I could no longer live in my home of 20 years because it was to close to a school, would have been shown on the website and would have had to register every 90 days i believe. I left and moved back to California. Hopefully, the tier system here will not get delayed any longer then what is currently planned.

      In my opinion the FEDs will never come after you to apply SONRA in non SONRA states unless: you don’t comply with other states rules when you cross state lines or leave the country without notifying the feds of your travel plans if you’re required to do so.

      it seems with 288(a)’s were screwed until SONRA is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

  14. Saddles

    Oh my what a bloat of confused people on the registry. Tim with his solution to the world turned upside down by data or some computer geek prossal or John Doe’s voter strikes about idea’s and rules to Ditto’s its a hard nut to crack. Well what has man not screwed up. One wonders if the world today wasn’t a big bang boom computer theory and we are all cyber robots.

    Sounds drab to me. So the story of creation was all in a proposed computer data base. Guess one doesn’t meed the bible from everyone’s view point. But what about wrongful persusasion or childern of malice and when I say children I’m talking about adults acting lipke kids. So who’s turning the other cheek?

    This whole SORNA issue is so out of the blue that anyone could see right thru it. So if one wants to compaire facts with true principal go to the main source which is the bible and some of you all have said I quote I don’t have time for that. Guess one had time to pay their fines even a speeding ticket or group therspy, etc.

    Now from what Safer Virginia has just e-mailed me and they are a part of NARSOL affiliate group is that is that we are all classified as tier offender and not sex offenders. I am puzzled on that one, guess its for stepping out of line or forgetting to send porno pictures, who knows when authorities present this ordeal upon another..,, I’m sure if anyone wants to read about this here is the look up https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+ful+CHAP0829 course this is Virginia’s legislation but I’m sure its like retroactive all over the USA.

    I am willing to go with several of you guys in a group and sound off about all this mockery of Justice. I’m sure its just as dizzy in California. Even much of this incarceration is a bit much not to mention these other head rushes and those that want to commit suecide. This whole SORNA thing is an inbalance and a type of corruption of Justice……or should we all say blesses is the peacemaker or what is a database of mass destruction.

  15. Not allowed to live

    I don’t understand how anyone can be confused by this? Even if the charge was 50 years ago you will have to register for 15, 25 or life. Guess what else even after you completed your time on the registry in the state that you reside in, you still have to register for another 15, 25 or life. You have to start from the beginning or start all over again. This is the floor and not the ceiling.

  16. New Person

    huh… if you’re in Florida, then there is a silver lining. You don’t have to continue to be on the registry after you’re done registering, right?

    Because if you do have to continue to register, then why do states have to conform to SORNA at all? And if SORNA is applied nationwide, then lowest legal age of consent is 16 years of age, IIRC. You cannot apply SORNA when all states have different ages of consent because that would violate equal protections. And if in those states that allow one off the registry earlier than SORNA’s 15, 25, and lifetime terms, then the federal government has increased time on the registry. We already have a few states that have shown that it is punitive to add onto the original agreement.

    There seems to be holes to applying a nationwide thing to states that did not originally conform.

  17. Brandon

    How can we except an ethical system when the people in charge think ethics doesn’t apply to them. If a President is confident in their re-election they shouldn’t be ramming regulations down millions of American’s throats. I will not bend over for government to screw me some more, f the government and their unethical behavior and practices.

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