Fundamental rights stolen by blanket sex offender registration

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2020 | Sex Crimes

If you are facing charges in Pennsylvania for a sex crime, you are likely aware that the mere accusation can ruin your life. 

Even worse, this can persist long after you have served a sentence if your name is on the publicly accessible sex offender registry. We believe that having your name on that list could needlessly destroy your reputation and undeservedly isolate you from your community. 

Challenging effectiveness 

The voices of those who believe the sex offender registry, or “Megan’s Law,” is largely ineffective at preventing sex offenses are getting louder. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported several challenges at the state Supreme Court level. The cases cover various legal issues, but they collectively describe Megan’s Law as “outdated, discriminatory, and unnecessarily cruel, depriving thousands of people of their fundamental rights.” 

Overstepping constitutionality 

Advocates for reforming the sex offender registry requirements believe that changes made to the original law through the years have deprived almost one million people of rights to their freedoms and their reputations. For example, offenders convicted of certain crimes are subject to life-long registration, even if they have no prior history of arrest. Some say that this is an unconstitutional presumption. Instead of evaluating offenders to determine if they are likely to commit another crime, it merely assumes that they are incapable of rehabilitation and will re-offend if given a chance. 

The Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2012 effectively doubled the number of Pennsylvanians obligated to register and notify their communities of their addresses. SORNA required more extensive information from registrants and detailed a much larger group of offenders compelled to disclose their details. There are offenses on the updated list that are not considered sexual. Proponents argue that this expansion is discriminatory and refer to the absence of proof that the sex offender registry prevents assaults or protects communities. 

Contradicting public perception 

The general public seems to believe that sex offenders cannot change and are incredibly likely to re-offend, even after years of abiding by the law. The justice system’s belief that anyone should have access to a public database of sex offenders’ personal details probably strengthens this misconception. However, studies show that only a very small percentage of sex offenders re-offend. Every other person on the registry is subject to the nation’s scrutiny and judgment. 

Appearing on the sex offender registry can devastate you when you are ready to move on with your life and prevent you from successfully reintegrating yourself in the community. You can find updates on the changes to Pennsylvania sex offender registration laws by visiting our webpage.