About 336 sex offenders are listed on the state registry in the Missoula area, and that's only the number of those who are compliant with their registration.
Assistant Attorney General Madison Mattioli stepped into a grant-funded position in April to address the 4,744 sex offenders statewide who are not compliant with current addresses and information on the state Department of Justice's Sexual and Violent Registration.
Mattioli and Assistant Attorney General Ole Olson were appointed as special prosecutors this week by the Missoula County Board of Commissioners to work those cases here.
The SVOR prosecutor position is funded through the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), a section of the the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The Montana Attorney General's Office has secured grant funding for the position through September 2021.
Enforcing that registration is a compelling public safety interest, Mattioli said.
"It helps people protect themselves and their communities," she said.
While DOJ maintains the registry, it's typically up to local agencies to enforce compliance and track offenders. With more than 4,000 sex offenders not complying with the registration, the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigations installed two agents solely committed to tracking down non-compliant offenders, sometimes working with the U.S. Marshals Office to bring them into custody, DOJ spokesman John Barnes said.
From there, Mattioli takes the case to prosecution.
"It's all law enforcement," Barnes said. "This is another aspect of that."
But prosecution is just one of several components required in the new grant-funded position. Mattioli's time is divided between educating local agencies on SORNA programs, providing lawmakers with information and updates on statutes, and developing Memorandums of Understanding with tribal nations who operate as SORNA jurisdictions in Montana.
She recently worked with the tribal officials on the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations to bolster registry efforts there with enhancements to their current training programs. Just as with any other agency in Montana, Mattioli's work will be a helping hand in communities where sex offender registration enforcement might not take the highest priority.
"This just helps them, to the extent that they need help," she said.