December 14, 2011

HARRISBURG, PA – Legislation to close loopholes that have permitted dangerous sex offenders to live anonymously in Pennsylvania is on its way to Governor Corbett for signature said the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today. Once signed by the governor, transient and out-of-state sex offenders will face prosecution if they fail to registration under Megan’s Law.

“Pennsylvanians will soon be safer from sexual predators who have continued to break the law by not registering as sex offenders,” said PDAA President and Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz. “Passage of this legislation has been the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association’s primary legislative priority this year. Although these loopholes should have been closed much sooner, district attorneys across Pennsylvania are nonetheless thankful for the legislature’s hard work to see this issue through.”

Until now, district attorneys throughout the state have reported being forced to drop failure to register charges against dozens of known sex offenders because of the loopholes. With the passage of S.B. 1183, criminal charges can now be brought against these sex offenders who fail to register.

“On behalf of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, I want to offer our most sincere appreciation to House Judiciary Chairmen Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) and Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks), who have stood with Pennsylvania’s district attorneys from day one as we attempted to close the sex offender loopholes,” Schultz said. “They heard our urgent message and displayed great leadership on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. We are grateful for their efforts.”

S.B. 1183 also includes important provisions making it a third degree felony for any teacher or school employee to engage in sexual relations with a student. Schultz thanked prime sponsor Representative Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), as well as Representative Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) for their diligence in crafting this legislation. S.B. 1183 also brings Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

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.