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Sex offender registry gets a demonstration with Navajo

SUMNER, Wash. – The Native American Sex Offender Registry has revived a word seldom heard in discussions of the Adam Walsh Act, which requires tribes to develop sex offender registries by July 2009 under threat of state and federal assumption of their sovereignty (though an annual extension is available).

The word is simple, and Perry Prescott uses it several times in describing NASOR. Prescott is the president of Cobalt Coyote Creative, which developed NASOR as a software package in response to tribal concerns about the collection and storage of sensitive data.

“We are actually launching the system, we actually demo’d it with the Navajo. ... For us it’s just a simple software collection project.”

The NASOR software and computer server addresses the primary problems of tribes that are trying to comply with AWA, Prescott said.

The law requires the collection of data used to identify, locate and track sex offenders. The battery of data, much of it potentially involving personal information on victims, must include offender demographics, criminal history, physical descriptions, marking and images (tattoos for instance), detail on particular offenses, court depositions, restraining order and parole detail, photographs, digitized images (again, for instance, of tattoos), lab work and notes.

“They didn’t want that data off tribal grounds.” Prescott’s company built software that tribes can use to enter information on servers they control. The training of data entry teams, dispatchers and officers can take place on-site and remotely. The NASOR software provides both public viewing and secure, administrative-only views.

Tribes and registry advocates have also expressed concern that the general absence of residence addresses on reservations will make it difficult to locate and track sex offenders. The NASOR system relies on hand-held Global Positioning System, or GPS, devices to overcome the problem. One visit to a sex offender’s residence will yield a GPS address – latitude and longitude – as well as vehicle identifications and other data for offender address mapping. After that tracking is simple enough, Prescott said. GPS coordinates can be plugged into the system with a GPS or PDA (personal digital assistant), telephone or other device, and stored anywhere, either remotely or in tribal facilities with power and data connectivity, he added.

Another perceived hurdle has been the need for an originating agency identifier number, the so-called ORI, to access the National Crime Information Center. An ORI is hard to come by, and that has generated questions as to how tribes can supply sex offender information as required by AWA. But all tribes really have to do is make the information available, Prescott said. The federal government can bring its resources to bear on accessing it, he explained.

Other basic NASOR features, according to Prescott, include search functions for offenders locally and within the state, the viewing of posted local and state alerts, access to local alerts, printed offender profiles and maps, linkage of offender profiles to all relevant documents and maps, secure online administration of data entry and review, internal messaging of “users-to-users” only, and the capacity for tribes to provide other agencies and Web-based systems with access to their data.

Prescott said the system can be readily updated, another key consideration for tribal registries.

“It’s a pretty simple process,” he said, adding by e-mail, “We hope to launch our system with several tribal nations before the end of the year.”

More information can be obtained at www.nasor.org.