Dear Members and Advocates,
It’s so hard to explain something you don’t fully understand yourself.
I’ll start with a basic fact: There’s no “Federal Registry.” When we go to re-register or report changes, we show up at our County Sheriff’s Office. That information gets entered into a database (registry) that’s maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and that information, in turn, gets shared with the US Department of Justice. The US Department of Justice maintains the “Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website”, which is just that; a website that allows you to search the individual registries of “all 50 states, The District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and Indian Country.”
So again, there is no federal registry – just a website. There are individual state and territory registries and if you are on one of them, you appear on the federal website. If you are no longer on the registry in any state, you are no longer on the federal website. If you are removed from the registry in one state and move to another that has lifetime registration (such as Florida), you go on that state’s registry and back on the federal website.
Yet even though there’s no “federal registry” there are federal registry requirements. We know that when you go from one state to another you need to be mindful of the registration obligations in each state (the one you are traveling from and the one you are traveling to), but you also need to be aware of the registration obligations at the federal level. If, for example, you travel between 2 states in which your registration obligations expired, you could still get arrested for a registration violation under a third set of rules … the federal registration requirements.
This proverbial third ball to juggle was tossed to us last week by the 6th Circuit when they decided Willman v United States. In that opinion, the Court found that the federal duty to register is independent of one’s state duty to register. Getting confusing yet? We’re not even going to get into County and City ordinances or we’ll really spin heads.
Here in Florida, where everyone is on for life (and even beyond death), the Willman decision isn’t as devastating. Since Florida has implemented “SORNA on Steroids” if we had to go by only the federal requirements it would actually be a relief for most of us. On the other hand, there are plenty of people in states who have not “substantially” implemented SORNA (keep in mind only 17 states have), who are pretty stressed out right now. Can you imagine being removed from the registry after 10 years and then being told you need to go back on for another 15 or for life even though your state doesn’t require it? And then where are you supposed to comply with your federal registration obligation if there’s no federal registry?
Separately, the US Department of Justice is now looking to make some amendments to the SORNA requirements. In light of Willman, remember these are in addition to and independent of state requirements. As if most state’s requirements were not confusing enough, registrants in the United States have to adhere to these second set of requirements (or 4th if you count the County and City ordinances we promised not to get into) at the federal level. All have no uniformity and give multiple law enforcement agencies several bites at the apple to try and lock you up. In Does v. Swearingen (the Ex Post Facto Plus case), attorney Val Jonas described the Florida registry as a “trip-wired maze”. Additional SORNA requirements just add land mines to the maze!
It’s hard to explain something you don’t understand yourself and I don’t understand it! I don’t understand how anyone can keep up with multiple sets of rules and requirements that are constantly changing and candidly I don’t understand many of the requirements because they intersect and conflict with each other. It’s literally like ordering Chinese food, where you have to pick the worst dish from columns A, B, C and D! Except here, the dishes are not even listed on the same menu!
I have to believe that if the governments (note, plural) keep inflating the same balloon it’s eventually going to pop. Either that or the right lawsuit (hopefully Does v. Swearingen) comes along and serves as the pin.
The Florida Action Committee
Sep 2 Wednesday at 7:00 pm ET. Do you want to be a County Coordinator? For current County Coordinators and members who want to become a County Coordinator for FAC. Dial 605-472-5596 Access 436675#. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 605-472-5596. You will receive a call-back, enter access code 436675# and be connected to the training meeting. If you are unable to attend and want to be participate in the training, contact [email protected].
Sep 3 Thursday. Monthly Membership call. Topic: Know Your Rights with guest guest attorney Chardo Richardson. Dial 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487 to receive a call-back and be connected to the conference.
Sep 10 Thursday. New member Orientation call. Dial 319-527-3487. All members welcome to join. Learn more about the organization, resources, family support and volunteer opportunities. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487 to receive a call-back and be connected to the conference.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Yesterday, The 6th Circuit issued a disappointing opinion, holding that a sex offender’s obligations under SORNA is independent of any duties under state law. In other words, even if someone’s obligations to register under STATE law have been terminated, if they are…
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Three years ago, a federal judge ruled that such consequences amounted to cruel and unusual punishment of three men who challenged their treatment under Colorado’s Sex Offender Registration Act. Last week a federal appeals court overturned that decision, saying the…
After our three letters to Brevard County Commissioners and numerous letters from members went ignored, FAC has now written to Florida’s Attorney General requesting she enforce Florida’s Governing in the Sunshine Law against the Commissioners of Brevard County. The…