The federal government today published final SORNA regulations in the Federal Register. According to this publication, the regulations will become effective on January 7, 2022.
“The only thing that can stop these regulations is a formal objection by Congress during the next 30 days which is unlikely to happen,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Therefore we must prepare to challenge the regulations through litigation filed in federal courts.”
Despite acknowledging that more than 700 comments were received regarding the proposed SORNA regulations issued in August 2020, today’s publication states that the federal government has decided to adopt virtually all of the proposed regulations. The only difference between the proposed and final regulations is a small change regarding the circumstances in which SORNA violations may result in federal criminal liability.
According to today’s publication, the final regulations “will make it easier for sex offenders to determine what they are required to do and thus facilitate compliance.” The publication does not, however, clarify vague language in the regulations including, but not limited to, which tier levels — federal or state — will apply for registration requirements and other purposes.
In today’s publication, the federal government has asserted that “SORNA’s requirements exist independently of state law requirements.” The publication also refutes an assertion by ACSOL and its allies that a registrant’s duty to act under SORNA arises only when the registrant travels interstate.
“In this final rule, the federal government is requiring some individuals required to register to comply with federal regulations such as registering up to four times a year without providing state and local government with additional resources,” stated ACSOL President Chance Oberstein. “This could result in gross injustices.”
According to today’s publication, “sex offenders are not held liable….for violation of registration requirements of which they are unaware, and noncompliance with SORNA may be excused where compliance is prevented by circumstances beyond their control, such as a jurisdiction’s failure to carry out a necessary complementary role.” The publication provides as an example a registrant who attempts to provide information required by SORNA to local law enforcement, but local law enforcement refuses to accept or record that information.
“ACSOL is concerned that registrants will be sent to federal prison for violations of these regulations during the time it takes to prove that local law enforcement was unwilling or unable to help registrants comply with these SORNA regulations,” stated Bellucci. “These regulations shift many burdens to individual registrants and do not penalize local law enforcement.”
Recording of ACSOL Emergency meeting with additional information regarding the final SORNA regulations.
A link to the 32-page publication issued today can be found below this article.
Federal Register Dec 8, 2021 (Easier to read in a web browser)
PDF version of above (Better for a printed version)