Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Oklahoma was JUST Certified AWA/SORNA Compliant by the SMART Office, Six Years After the AWA Deadline. And Delaware is No Longer Certified, Why?

July 27, 2006
President Bush signs HR4472-The Adam Walsh Act

Today on Twitter the SMART Office (@DOJSMART) tweeted that Oklahoma just became Federal Adam Walsh (AWA) / Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORNA) Act of 2006 compliant.

Now this was a bit odd as the deadline for compliance was back in the summer of 2011 but I clicked on their site to read the latest and then I learned that instead of Oklahoma becoming the 18th State to be certified by the SMART Office they were the 17th. But wait there were already 17 States, certified! 

So I compared the list I started back in 2009 to their current list of States and then I realized Delaware was no longer SMART certified, but they had been certified back on May 3, 2010. What happened? Maybe it was this (Thanks to eAdvocate for sending, Mary).
AWA/SORNA Certified States as of today: 

  1. Ohio                                    Certified on 09/30/2009   * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
  2. Florida                               Certified on 05/18/2010
  3. South Dakota                  Certified on 10/15/2010
  4. Michigan                          Certified on  05/12/2011
  5. Nevada                            Certified on  05/12/2011    * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
  6. Wyoming                          Certified on  05/12/2011
  7. Louisiana                          Certified on  07/07/2011
  8. Alabama                            Certified on  07/27/2011
  9. Kansas                              Certified on  07/27/2011    * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
  10. Maryland                          Certified on  07/27/2011    * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
  11. Mississippi                       Certified on  07/27/2011
  12. Missouri                            Certified on  07/27/2011
  13. South Carolina               Certified on  07/27/2011
  14. Tennessee                        Certified on  09/29/2011
  15. Pennsylvania                  Certified on  12/20/2012    * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
  16. Colorado                            Certified on  11/13/2013
  17. Oklahoma                         Certified on  02/28/2017   * Certain portions of their registry to achieve AWA compliance have been ruled unconstitutional
AWA Certified Territories:
  1. Guam
  2. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  3. U.S. Virgin Islands 
There are MANY very good reasons for 33 States, the District of Columbia and 2 Territories to not comply with the AWA Final Guidelines. 

  1. The SMART Office originally wanted juveniles to register as Sex Offenders so some States did this, but others were smart enough not to. For the States that did so hoping to retain that 10% of the Byrne Grant thousands of young lives were destroyed and then the Final guidelines didn’t require it. But that hasn’t stopped some Virginia Legislators from claiming it’s still a Federal requirement when they’ve proposed Legislation to expand upon our juvenile registration laws.
  2. The SMART Office wanted Sex Offenders classifications to be based on their conviction, not on their risk which 20 years of research has concluded is the worst way to classify former-offenders. 
  3. The SMART Office wanted the minimum time for Sex Offenders to register to be 15 years so some States retroactively increased their 10 year Offenders to 15 years hoping to retain that 10% of the Byrne Grant. This included Virginia back in 2008 Non-Violent Offenders no longer could petition after 10 years on the VSP Registry but would now have to wait 15 years.
  4. The SMART Office wanted specific convictions to determine how long Sex Offenders would have to register but each State determines what is a misdemeanor and what is a felony conviction, the SMART Office didn’t care they wanted all 50 States to be the same. So when Virginia took some misdemeanor crimes and elevated then to felonies back in 2006 and in 2008 the Virginia State Police saw this as an opportunity to retroactively increase current Offenders from Non-Violent to Violent, making them “lifers” on the VSP Registry and inching their way closer to being AWA/SORNA compliant. 
            Just to list a few. 

Only 34% of U.S. States are Adam Walsh Act compliant, 21 years since the Act was first passed and the District of Columbia which is governed by the U.S. Congress who passed AWA hasn’t even complied. That speaks volumes, AWA is not worthwhile, in fact it causes more harm than good.  

But Oklahoma JUST complied. Why? 

Back in 2011 (the year of the AWA deadline) the Virginia State Crime Commission estimated the cost to comply with AWA for the State of Virginia would be $12.5 million to be able to save 10% of the Byrne Grant (the penalty for not complying). The Byrne Grant amount had already been dropping significantly each year for Virginia so the estimated loss for 2013 was actually a little more than $100,000 not the $600,000 that was declared at the 2011 General Assembly by newly elected VA Senator Bill Stanley. He was given that number by then VA Attorney General Cuccinelli’s office so he believed it to be correct, it was not. A point that I raised to the 2012 Senate Courts of Justice Committee, 4 members who were also on the VSCC and yet no Committee members wanted to tell Senator Stanley his number was wrong. 

Then in 2015 the Virginia State Police wrote in a report titled The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registry Requirements on Public Safety that posted online for a brief time and then disappeared from the Internet completely that they wanted to work towards Federal AWA compliance. Where would the millions to achieve this come from? 

It’s been 6 years since the 2011 Virginia State Crime Commission figured the cost of $12.5 million to comply, today the cost would be even more and the savings to retain that 10% of the Byrne Grant would be even less 

Knowing all of this, most of you (if not all) have concluded that Virginia should never comply with AWA/SORNA, I agree! But I’ve been doing this for 9 years now and I’m fairly certain that the Virginia State Police and probably a few Virginia Legislators are still working on how they can get the Commonwealth certified by the SMART Office if not now because of the State’s budget deficit, maybe in a few more years. 

Mary Devoy