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House Passes Bill to Close Loopholes in Megan’s Law, Pickett Says
11/1/2011

HARRISBURG – To ensure that children are better protected in their communities, legislation passed the state House today to close loopholes in the state’s Megan’s Law, said Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna).

 

Under Megan’s Law, all sex offenders must be registered with the state police, which then maintains a registry of sex offenders and sexually violent predators who reside, attend school or are employed within the Commonwealth. The state police also maintains an Internet website to allow the public to access information about registrants.

 

“Protecting children is one of our foremost responsibilities, and although the enactment of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law has greatly assisted law enforcement and our communities about the location of convicted sex offenders for nearly 15 years, weaknesses exist in the current law,” Pickett said. “Right now, out-of-state and homeless offenders are not required to register under Megan’s Law, even though they’ve been convicted of heinous crimes in their home states. As a result, the hands of our law enforcement officers are tied, and these offenders can move into communities without the police and community residents knowing.”

 

Senate Bill 818 ensures that out-of-state offenders who move to Pennsylvania will not be able to fall through the cracks of registering with the state police. All out-of-state offenders who relocate to the Commonwealth must register with the state police or face criminal penalties. In addition, the legislation requires homeless offenders to register as “transients” every 30 days with the state police at approved registration sites, be photographed and provide information about where he/she may be located, such as parks, public buildings, restaurants and libraries.

 

The loopholes were discovered last year when the Superior Court ruled in two cases that transients and out-of-state sex offenders are not required to register under Megan’s Law and cannot be prosecuted for intentionally failing to register. Out-of-state offenders who face a lifetime registration in their home state are not required to register in Pennsylvania.

 

The passage of this legislation is in addition to other Megan’s Law proposals, House Bills 68 and 75, that were approved by the House earlier this year to close the existing loopholes.

 

Senate Bill 818, which also addresses dispositions and certain findings in juvenile court cases, returns to the Senate for its consideration.

 

The Megan’s Law website is accessible online at PAMegansLaw.state.pa.us.


Contact: Jennifer Keaton
                                                                                          

jkeaton@pahousegop.com                                                                        Facebook.com/RepPickett

717.705.2094 

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