local authorities.115 The registration requirements imposed on offenders are based on their rating
within the tier system that the Act created.116 Offenders are rated as Tier 1, 2, or 3 based on the
type of sexual crime they committed.117 Tier 3 offenders are considered the highest-risk
offenders, and include those offenders who committed a crime that is punishable by
imprisonment for more than one year.118 The offenses in Tier 3 are comparable to or more severe
than the federal offenses of sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact against
a minor less than thirteen years old, or kidnapping of a minor.119 Tier 2 offenders committed a
crime that is punishable by more than one year imprisonment and is comparable to sex trafficking
or abusive sexual conduct.120 Tier 1 offenders are those that do not fall within Tier 2 or 3.121 The
Act requires that Tier 3 sexual offenders update their personal information, including their
address, with local police departments in person every three months for the duration of their
life.122 Tier 2 offenders must update the police department in-person every six months for twenty-five years and Tier 1 offenders must do so every year for fifteen years.123 The registration
information is then added to the national registry, created by the Act, allowing people to search
beyond their own state borders for sex offenders.124 An offender who knowingly fails to comply
with SORNA’s registration requirements, including updating his registration when required, can
incur a federal criminal penalty of up to ten years in prison.125
SORNA also mandates the registration of offenders who are as young as fourteen years
old.126 Based on the requirements of the Amie Zyla amendment of the Adam Walsh Act, states
include juveniles in their sex registries who are over the age of fourteen at the time they
committed the offense.127 This provision was enacted as a result of the advocacy of Amie Zyla, a
child sexual abuse survivor who discovered that the man that was convicted of sexually assaulting
her in his teens was convicted of harming more children after he turned eighteen and became a
legal adult.128 Just as in the Jacob Wetterling Act, if states do not comply with the provisions of
this new act, they forfeit ten percent of their federal crime budget.129
115 Wilson, supra note 7, at 517; ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92; see also 730 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 150/3 (West 2014)
(requiring criminal sex offenders in Illinois to provide, among other things, a current photograph, address, place of employment, all
email addresses, instant messaging identities, and chat room identities when registering with local law enforcement agencies).
116 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 87.
117 Id.; Lisa L. Sample & Mary K. Evans, Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification, in SEX OFFENDER LAWS: FAILED
POLICIES, NEW DIRECTIONS 211, 219 (Richard G. Wright ed., 2009).
118 Terry & Ackerman, supra note 54, at 91; Sample & Evans, supra note 117, at 219–20.
119 Sample & Evans, supra note 117, at 219–20.
122 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92; Terry & Ackerman, supra note 54, at 91; see also 730 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 150/6 (West
2014) (stating that a criminal sex offender in Illinois must report to the local law enforcement agency with whom he or she has
registered every ninety days).
123 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92; Terry & Ackerman, supra note 54, at 91.
124 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92; Terry & Ackerman, supra note 54, at 91.
125 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92; Sex Offender Registration and Failure to Register FAQs, SMART OFFICE OF SEX
OFFENDER SENTENCING, MONITORING, APPREHENDING, REGISTERING, & TRACKING, http://ojp.gov/smart/faqs/faq_registration.htm
(last visited Apr. 9, 2014) (explaining that anyone required to register under SORNA can incur these punishments if they fail to notify
local authorities “where circumstances supporting federal jurisdiction exist,” including travel anywhere out of state or onto an Indian
126 ZILNEY & ZILNEY, supra note 58, at 92.
127 Janus & Polachek, supra note 6, at 160–61.
128 Martha T. Moore, Sex Crimes Break the Lock on Juvenile Records, USA TODAY (July 10, 2006),
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-07-10-juvenile-offenders_x.htm. Amie Zyla argued “that the public’s right to know
of a sex offender living nearby trumps a juvenile’s right to keep court records secret.” Id. After her offender “was sent to a juvenile
home for sexually assaulting her when she was 8 and he was 14,” Amie later discovered that he was arrested again for assaulting
children and eventually sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Id.