PUBLIC SAFETY AT RISK; MEGAN’S LAW LOOPHOLES MUST BE CLOSED
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvanians will continue to be at an increased risk from sex offenders until legislation to close unintended loopholes in Megan’s Law is enacted said members of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today at the close of its summer business meeting. The PDAA cautioned that unless the measure is among the General Assembly’s top and immediate priorities when it returns in September, out-of-state and transient sex offenders who should be covered by the law will continue to elude registration and pose even greater risk to Pennsylvanians.
“Closing the Megan’s Law loopholes is a legislative no-brainer that has turned into a political headache, and the failure to close them is putting the public at risk,” said newly-elected PDAA President and Crawford County District Attorney Francis J. Schultz. “This legislation passed the General Assembly once before and there is no good reason why it shouldn’t quickly and easily pass again.”
In 2010, legislation to close the Megan’s Law loopholes was vetoed by then-Governor Edward G. Rendell because it was combined with another, unrelated bill. During the current legislative session which began in January, the legislation at first appeared to be moving at warp speed. A version of the Megan’s Law fix, H.B. 68 and H.B. 75, passed the House in early February. In the Senate, S.B. 42, which only covers out-of-state offenders, was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 9. Since then, the legislation hasn’t moved. Meanwhile, district attorneys report being forced to drop failure to register charges against dozens of known sex offenders throughout the state.
The fixes to the flawed law were among the top legislative priorities announced by the PDAA last March.
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 penalties for failing to register.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is comprised of approximately 1,000 members and is charged with providing uniformity and efficiency in the discharge of duties and functions of Pennsylvania’s 67 District Attorneys and their assistants. Since its founding in 1912, the Association has dutifully sponsored extensive training programs and reported legal and legislative developments of importance to Pennsylvania prosecutors. In addition, the Association is often called upon by legislative leaders at the state and national level to address public policy issues and efforts which will impact the prosecution of criminal cases, victim rights and public safety.