Pennsylvania Senate considers overhaul of sex offender registration law

The Pennsylvania Senate will consider an overhaul of the state’s sex offender registration laws. The move is necessary after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled provisions of the Adam Walsh Act could not be applied retroactively. 

The proposed legislation would turn back the clock for ex-offenders convicted before the 2012 law took effect, but still require they finish any original registration obligation under the old version of Megan’s Law, which was either 10 years or a lifetime. The bill also would loosen some burdensome requirements including giving offenders with lifetime registration obligations the ability to get off the registry. 

The bill also would add a registration exemption for interference with custody of children if the defendant is a parent or other legal custodians of a victim child. 

At least one critic is not impressed with the proposed changes.

Attorney Aaron Marcus of the Philadelphia Defenders Association believes state House lawmakers missed an opportunity with the bill to bring the state into line with research-based validated strategies for managing sex offenders and determining who is at risk for reoffending that “actually make us safer.” 

“There are dangerous people. We need to monitor them or incapacitate them when they do terrible things, which when done right, is done by the court at sentencing and probation or parole after release,” Marcus said. “Not a single study suggests schemes like this (proposed bill) work to reduce sexual violence.” 

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