State sex offender registries are an outgrowth of the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which created the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). SORNA was intended to improve consistency among state and local laws regarding how those convicted of sexually-based offenses are required to register and how residents and law enforcement in the community are notified of their presence.
The more of the requirements detailed in SORNA that states and other jurisdictions implement, the more access they have to federal funds. The federal Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) tracks compliance with SORNA in five categories and 19 subcategories within those.
According to the progress check published in April, both Maryland and our neighbors in Virginia meet the minimum requirements in every category and subcategory. Washington, D.C. is currently meeting the minimums in just 11 of the 19 subcategories and meets all of the minimums in just one of the main five categories.
The categories in the progress check are:
- Offenses and offenders included: These include federal, state, military, tribal, territory and juvenile offenders. The state retroactively applies requirements.
- Tracking and penalizing absconders: This includes a criminal penalty and notification of the applicable jurisdictions when a person fails to register or “absconds” from the area.
- Community notification: This includes maintaining the registry on a publicly-accessible website with information about the offenders and their offenses. This registry is updated with changes in the offender’s information and an email alert system that notifies the public when an offender has left an area.
- Offender verification and appearance: Offenders must register as required and notify the authorities of changes in their information, relocation or if they intend to travel abroad. The frequency of required reporting is based on the offense.
- Information sharing: This relates to the information that is provided on the registry and notification to the appropriate authorities of changes in the information.
Maryland law enforcement takes sex crimes very seriously. A conviction or guilty plea can have significant, long-term consequences for a person’s life and career. If you or a loved one is facing charges, regardless of the situation, it’s essential to seek experienced legal guidance.
Source: SMART.gov, “Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) State and Territory Implementation Progress Check,” accessed May 01, 2018