Supplemental SORNA Guidelines

On May 14, 2010 the SMART Office issued supplemental guidelines which modify its original guidelines (issued July 2, 2008). All comments on these revised guidelines are due by July 13, 2010. Comments may be mailed to Linda M. Baldwin, Director, SMART Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 810 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20531. Please reference OAG Docket No. 134. Comments may also be submitted electronically.

See Federal Register: May 14, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 93).

The following describes and distinguishes the supplemental guidelines from that of the original SORNA guidelines:

Juvenile Delinquency Adjudications

The supplemental guidelines give states discretion to exempt juvenile delinquency adjudications from public web site posting. Additionally, jurisdictions are not required to disclose adjudications to entities that include certain schools, public housing, social services and volunteer entities. However, the supplemental guidelines do not change SORNA requirements for registration of juveniles adjudicated delinquent for acts constituting serious sex offenses. And, their registration information must be shared with the national database, law enforcement, supervision agencies and registration authorities in other jurisdictions, as applicable.  

The original SORNA guidelines require registration of juveniles who have committed certain serious or aggravated acts; and in addition require that jurisdictions post the young offender’s information on the state’s public web site, as well as provide for full disclosure of that information.

Internet Identifiers

The supplemental guidelines require rather than recommend that jurisdictions exempt sex offenders’ email addresses and other Internet identifiers from public web site posting. This change does not limit use of that information for law enforcement and supervision purposes; and does not limit the discretion of jurisdictions to include on public web sites functions that allow the public to ascertain whether a particular email address or Internet identifier is reported as that of a registered sex offender.  

The original SORNA guidelines discouraged but did not disallow the inclusion of sex offenders’ Internet identifiers on the public web sites. 

Interjurisdictional Tracking and Information Sharing

The supplemental guidelines expand required registration information to require offenders notify the registration jurisdiction at least 21 days in advance of international travel. The residence jurisdiction is then required to notify the U.S. Marshalls Service and must transmit the information to national databases, law enforcement and supervision agencies, and other jurisdictions as provided in the original guidelines.   The supplemental guidelines reflect interagency work of federal agencies to develop a system for consistently identifying and tracking international travel or persons required to register as sex offenders. (Certain exceptions to the 21 day requirement are allowed for urgent, unexpected, emergency travel circumstances.) 

The original SORNA guidelines require offenders to notify their residence jurisdiction of any planned travel outside of the United States; and further require that registered sex offenders inform residence jurisdictions about lodging at places away from their residences for seven days or more, regardless of whether it is the result of domestic or international travel.

Domestic Interjurisdictional Tracking

The supplemental guidelines clarify that jurisdictions must have a policy to regularly access the SORNA Exchange Portal, which provides for immediate sharing of information among jurisdictions with regard to changes or updates to offender registration information. 

The original SORNA guidelines task the Attorney General with developing support software to facilitate an immediate exchange of information among jurisdictions.  The SMART office has since created and maintains the SORNA Exchange Portal, which enabled the immediate exchange of information about registered sex offenders among the jurisdictions. 

Acknowledgement Forms

The supplemental guidelines expand registration information to include the form signed by a sex offender acknowledging that he or she was advised of their registration obligations. This information supports jurisdictions’ enforcement of the registration requirement which under SORNA includes penalties for failure to comply.

The original SORNA guidelines provide that sex offenders are to be informed of their registration requirement and required to sign acknowledgement that this information has been provided upon initial registration. 

Ongoing Implementation Assurance

The supplemental guidelines address substantial implementation with the stated requirement that laws and rules be accompanied by demonstration of those in practice. The supplement clarifies that the SMART office in reviewing compliance will undertake review of  laws and policies, procedure manuals, description of infrastructure and technology resources, and information about personnel and budgetary measures relating to the operation of the jurisdiction’s registration and notification system. Also clarifies that jurisdictions that have substantially implemented SORNA have a continuing obligation to maintain their system’s consistency with current SORNA standards in order to be eligible for full Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding. Jurisdictions that do not receive JAG funding because of non-implementation of SORNA may regain eligibility for full funding in later program years by substantially implementing SORNA in such later years. 

The original SORNA guidelines explain that the SMART Office will determine whether jurisdictions have substantially implemented the SORNA requirements in their programs and that jurisdictions are to provide submissions to SMART to facilitate this process.

Retroactive Classes

The supplemental guidelines modify and narrow retroactive registration requirement with regard to persons outside the justice system (that is, those not in prison, on probation, parole, supervised release) but who have a record of a previous sex offense that would constitute a present registration requirement under SORNA. Jurisdictions are required to register only those who reenter the system with a new felony conviction (described as one for which the statutory maximum penalty exceeds one year of imprisonment.). The supplemental guidelines do not modify requirements that apply to new criminal convictions for any sex offense, which independently carry a registration requirement under SORNA.

The original SORNA guidelines require jurisdictions to register sex offenders with pre-SORNA or pre-SORNA implementation sex offense convictions who remain in the system as prisoners, supervisees or registrants, or who reenter the system through a subsequent criminal conviction.  

Newly Recognized Tribes

The supplemental guidelines allow Indian tribes that receive federal recognition following the enactment of SORNA a period of one year to elect whether to become a SORNA jurisdiction.   Such decision to be a SORNA registration jurisdiction (rather than defer those responsibility to a state ) also provides for a period of three years for implementation with two possible one year extensions.

The original SORNA guidelines gave federally recognized tribes until July 27, 2007, to declare whether they would become a SORNA registration jurisdiction or delegate registration and notification functions to a state or states.


This summary is intended to supplement, not replace, review of the full SORNA guidelines and supplemental guidelines. All interpretation of the federal act and compliance is the responsibility of the SMART Office director, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. NCSL’s Federal Affairs Counsel for Law and Criminal Justice is in Washington, D.C., at (202) 624-5400; and the NCSL Criminal Justice Program is in Denver, Colorado, at (303) 364-7700, or