Tribal leaders are pleased that a sex offender registry and compliance enforcement office has been established on the Wind River Reservation.
The office in Ethete was established under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act – or SORNA – to close reporting gaps among states, territories and Indian Country. Before it opened on August 17, there was no way to force sex offenders living, working or studying on the reservation to make their presence known to the public.
Julian Hubbard of the Northern Arapaho Business Council says the Wind River SORNA office allows the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes to keep community residents safe.
“It strengthens our sovereignty, our jurisdiction. And it gives us the opportunity to take control and spearhead this,” Hubbard says.
But Wind River SORNA director Kendra Smith says she’s been hearing a wide range of reactions from residents about the website, which lists the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders on the reservation, as well as the types of crimes in their background.
“I have excited people, happy people… curious people,” Smith says. “I also have some upset people, which, you know, I can understand to a point.”
Smith says some people are concerned for the privacy of friends and family members who are required to join the registry.
Eleven offenders were registered on Wind River as of today, and Smith expects a total of 37 to register.