Place Category: Specialized Court Projects
- THE LITTLE TRAVERSE BAY BANDS OF ODAWA INDIANS
LTBB SORNS TEAM (FOR SUBSTANTIAL IMPLEMENTATION OF SORNA)
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
Summary: The LTBB Sex Offender Registration and Notification Statute (SORNS) Team is in charge of the substantial implementation and ongoing compliance of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) guidelines as provided by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office for the LTBB reservation. It is comprised of a diverse team of employees who are working to ensure an effective process is in place to identify, report, and register sexual offenders residing, working or going to school within the tribal jurisdiction.
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB)
Program Running Length:
2010 – Present
Susan (Su) Lantz
SORNA Coordinator & Exec. Legal Assistant
7500 Odawa Circle
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Harbor Springs, Michigan
The reservation boundary area encompasses over 200,000 acres of land; of which the LTBB owns 1,166 acres, in fee or trust lands, within the exterior reservation boundary. It is mainly a resort area by nature, located along the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan up towards the Mackinaw Straits and in the proximity of three ski resorts and many other areas of vacationing interests. The area is mainly rural with several small cities and towns within the reservation boundary area. The terrain is mountainous-hilly, farmland areas, beachfront and camping areas, and numerous golf courses.
There are 4,575 tribal citizens. Within the population that lives on the reservation, there are a couple of different scenarios:
The 1836 Treaty of Washington and the 1855 Treaty of Detroit recognized Emmet and Charlevoix Counties as the official homeland of the LTBB. Currently, the majority of the reservation lies within Emmet County, which has a population of 33,161 according to the 2015 census. This population is estimated rise 1.4% during the spring and summer months.
There are approximately 700 Tribal citizens currently living within the exterior boundaries of the reservation area, some of which reside on trust land (dedicated LTBB Housing sites). The trust land is checker-boarded throughout the reservation boundary.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Statute (SORNS) team was developed as a way to meet a deadline imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) SMART office, for the substantial implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).The SORNS team works to ensure implementation of SORNA, which is focused on properly registering sexual offenders within the tribal jusridiction in the State of Michigan.In many ways, the SORNS team developed itself. The members of the LTBB Tribal Government who attended SORNA trainings were the typical people that were involved in SORNA. These people included law enforcement officers and supervisors, and the Legislative Services Attorney, who is responsible for drafting the laws for LTBB and working with Tribal Council on statutory needs. Su Lantz was asked by the Legislative Attorney to join the meeting where they studied the guidelines sheet provided by the SMART Office. While reviwing the guidelines, the members at the meeting began to write a plan to achive “Susbstaintial Implementation of SORNA”. This plan developed into the policy that promted the development of the SORNS Team.The goal of the SORNS team is to ensure the substantial implementation of the SORNA recommendations and successfully adhere to the guidelines set forth by the DOJ’s SMART office.The SORNS team developed the “SORNS Policy” in response to the DOJ’s SMART guidelines and it includes stakeholders from various levels of tribal government and law enforcement. The team meets as necessary, every six months or when there is a critical matter that needs to be addressed. In addition, the team meets when there is staff member turnover.
The team is designed to be the “expert group” overseeing the substantial implementation of SORNA. They work to plan and carry out the strategies necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the SORNA recommendations and to analyze the current process for improvements .The main players of the SORNS Team are as follows:
Legislative Services Attorney
Tribal Administrator (which is now Direct Services Administrator)
Chief of Law Enforcement
Law Enforcement Registry Officer
Chief Judge and Assistant
Prosecutor and Assistant
Tribal Chair and Tribal Council (Invited Attendees)
General Counsel (Invited Attendee)The SORNS teams is currently working to collect data for the development of a treatment and reentry program. The data collection has three main focuses:
The number of sex offenders in the area who are currently in the Michigan Department of Corrections facility or the federal prison.
Create a partnership or establish stronger relationships with the local probation officers and other law enforcement personel to identify the services provided to currently incarcerated and/or paroled sex offenders. Examples of services may include: community service opportunities, regular meetings with parole officers, group/individual therapy, potential employment opportunites and overcoming housing issues, etc.
Identification of all services that are available within the existing LTBB Government Operations programs.
By identifying services LTBB will identify the gaps in services so we can determine the actual needs and work toward filling that gap.Since its onset, the SORNA team has received two grants, primarily used for training purposes. Additionally, the SMART office gave all federally recognized tribes the option to self-implement SORNA or agree to allow their sovereignty to be waived and have the respective states step in to handle all sex offense cases. Most tribes opt to self-implement unless they have no infrastructure to support a SORNA Substantial Implementation Program.The tribe worked closely with the SMART office and the Fox Valley Technical College (FVCT) during the SORNS creation. Additionally, some members attended the 2010 Adam Walsh Act National Symposium which brought together professionals from tribal, state, and federal offices.The SORNS team is a collaboration between multiple partners. It involves stakeholders ranging from housing and the legislative council to law enforcement and tribal behavioral services.The SORNS team has had much success since its development. A diverse array of members in consistent communication help the team stay on track. The set meeting times, spread out to every six months, provides a stable framework and the flexibility to meet more often if needed, and allows the team to assess issues as they arise. Additionally, frequently evaluating their progress and creating additional tools, such as flowcharts and other training materials, increases the team’s capacity. Lastly, identifying and addressing any loopholes strengthens the SORNS team overall.A key challenge for the SORNS team is the low number of registered sexual offenders on the LTBB reservation. This low quantity makes it difficult to know if the team is being effective and efficient in their goal of maintaining a fully functioning sex offender registry. LTBB’s method to overcome this challenge was to initiate a “mock” sex offender arrest and do a run-through of the entire process to check for loopholes. When those loopholes or missing steps were identified they were added to the process to ensure that our process is successful and ready for use at any point.One of the primary lessons the SORNS team has learned is the value of investigating the best practices of other tribes before implementing a project. Although the LTBB SORNS team was one of the first to be developed, reaching out to other tribes who were working towards a common goal would have been helpful for planning and designing the team.
The other takeaway has been importance of having a dedicated SORNS team. Like many other things, the successful implementation of the SORNA project came from a broad range of staff with varied expertise and departmental responsibilities. It is something that requires a team effort, so having a dedicated team to work together results in better implementation.Not applicable for this program.There has been one self-evaluation of the SORNS team since its implementation. However, the SORNA Management Manual, developed by the team, was shared with the LTBB Tribal Council, FVTC, and Tribal Law Enforcement, and has received positive feedback.
Additionally, the SORNS team conducted a mock run-through using the SORNS Law Enforcement Procedures Manual and the flowcharts. This was seen as a good way to find mistakes and assure a well-functioning process. The main issues that were found related to the team’s flowcharts, which addressed investigative, adjudication, and sentencing steps. These errors were quickly corrected.There has been little response and/or push-back from the community to the development of the SORNS team.The SORNS team was able to successfully achive “Substaintial Implementation of SORNA” status, as defined by the SMART office. Additionally, they have developed a solid foundation of processes and procedures to address any issues related to sex offender registration in the future.
- THE LITTLE TRAVERSE BAY BANDS OF ODAWA INDIANS
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