Fixes to Megan’s Law Make Progress

November 16, 2011

HARRISBURG, PA – Loopholes that have allowed dangerous transient and out-of-state sex offenders avoid registration under Megan’s Law may soon be fixed, thanks to the pressure that has come to bear on Harrisburg to act the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) said today.

“We are extremely pleased that the Senate acted and passed language that matched the House language last night that would immediately fix these loopholes in Megan’s Law,” said PDAA President and Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz. “As the Governor stated in the wake the Penn State scandal¸ when it comes to protecting children there can be no margin for error. To that end, the law must ensure that sexual predators are accounted for.”

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has made closing these dangerous loopholes its top 2011 legislative priority. S. B. 1183 passed the Senate last night by a vote of 49 to 0 to close the loopholes immediately. On November 1, the state House of Representatives passed similar language, for the second time, in the form of S.B. 818.

“It is clear that the legislature is hearing the urgent message of prosecutors and the people in our communities that these loopholes need to be closed,” said Schultz. “The tremendous work that has been done by Representatives Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) and Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks) has helped keep this issue in front of the legislature. The Senate’s willingness to act this week gives us hope that after nearly two years, we will finally get these simple fixes done.”

Because of the loopholes, district attorneys have reported being forced to drop failure to register charges against dozens of known sex offenders throughout the state.

Megan’s Law makes information available to the public regarding convicted sexual predators and requires certain offenders to register with the state after they are released from prison. The original law, however, was found to be deficient in addressing the registration of out-of-state and transient offenders. Fixes to the law include requiring homeless and/or transient offenders to register with state police and subjecting out-of-state offenders to criminal penalties for failing to register.