Monday, December 15, 2008

Will Florida Implement SORNA? : Florida Senate Report Weighs Pros, Cons of Adam Walsh Act Compliance. (PDF file) : Fiscal, Policy, and Legal Considerations Regarding State Compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.

In 2007, the Florida Legislature enacted legislation to revise Floridas laws to comply with SORNA (SB 1604 and some provisions of SB 1004, the Cybercrimes Against Children Act of 2007). SB 1604 adopted many, but not all, of the requirements of SORNA

If legislators decide not to substantially implement SORNA then Floridas registration/notification laws can be shaped by legislators without the need to consider whether those laws will substantially implement SORNA and ensure full JAG funding. The JAG funding penalty to ensure SORNA compliance is only federal leverage if a state determines that it must have full JAG funding. Legislators would be free to determine which, if any, SORNA requirements to adopt, and could even reconsider and remove SORNA requirements previously adopted, depending on their determination of the states best interests.

It is uncertain if non-compliance with SORNA could be used as state leverage for Congress to reconsider at least those requirements that have generated the most debate or controversy, but it seems intuitive that Floridas decision not to comply with SORNA would be of significant concern and importance to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justices Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), which administers the SORNA standards. Florida has one of the largest pools of registered sex offenders in the country, so Floridas non-compliance with SORNA might call into question whether the AWA can, in fact, establish "a comprehensive national system for the registration" of sex offenders (SORNA 102), one of its declared purposes.

While states are free to choose not to substantially implement SORNA, non-compliance will result in a 10 percent reduction in Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding. All states are currently under time constraints to comply with SORNA. The implementation deadline is July 27, 2009, but the U.S. Attorney General has the authority to grant up to two 1-year extensions of the implementation deadline. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has indicated it intends to file for a one-year extension as it is unclear at this time whether the Legislature intends to substantially implement SORNA.
States are beginning to look at whether they can afford to comply with SORNA. However, it is impossible to definitively state what it would cost Florida to comply with SORNA and what Florida stands to lose based on the reduction of 10 percent JAG funding for not complying with SORNA. This is because of uncertainty about future JAG funding, how the JAG funding penalty would be applied, and the availability and duration of grant funding.