Pennsylvania Legislature weighing changes to sex offender registry

Legislators in Pennsylvania are considering their options after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that changes to the sex offender registry approved in 2011 couldn’t be applied retroactively.

Similar to what happened in Nebraska, the changes in Pennsylvania’s law resulted in hundreds more people being added to the state’s public sex offender registry and others had their registration terms lengthened.

Reporter Joshua Vaughn, with the Sentinel newspaper of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, does a good job of examining the legislature’s discussion of the issue during a hearing this week, and knocking down some common myths about sex offenders.

Most sex offender registry policies are passed with a notion that people convicted of sexual offenses are highly likely to go on to commit new sexual offenses. 

When the Legislature passed its update in 2011 it added language that “sexual offenders pose a high risk of committing additional sexual offenses, and protection from this type of offender is a paramount government interest.” 

During his testimony Tuesday, (Cumberland County District Attorney David) Freed cited a study saying that “four out of every 10 (convicted sex offenders) returned to prison within three years.”

While the Bureau of Justice Statistics study Freed cited showed roughly 40 percent of nearly 10,000 people released in 1994 for committing a sexual offense were arrested again, only about 5 percent were arrested for a new sexual offense and only 3.5 percent were re-convicted.

Read the full article here

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