– House Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) is pleased that his legislation to strengthen laws to protect Pennsylvanians from dangerous sex offenders received unanimous final passage in the House this week and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
“I took a hard look at ways in which we could strengthen our laws regarding sex offenders who pose a serious risk to public safety when they are released back into the community without a level of supervision to monitor their transition,” said Marsico. “Megan’s Law, which requires registration as a sex offender, may provide law enforcement and the community with information about their residence, work and school locations. However, without parole or probation supervision, there is little way of knowing whether a serious sex offender is making an appropriate adjustment from incarceration to freedom, and there are no consequences for failing to engage in positive efforts to turn his or her life around unless the person commits another crime.”
Inmates who are released from prison because they have served the maximum sentence imposed by the court are not normally subject to any supervision by state parole or the court. Even if paroled before maxing out, the period of parole supervision may be short, depending on how close to their maximum term they were released.
House Bill 631
would require the court to impose a mandatory three-year probation period consecutive to any term of total confinement for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act, commonly known as Megan’s Law. Under existing law, the court will have the flexibility to order supervision by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, or county probation. If a person is paroled and adequately adjusts to freedom under parole supervision, current law would permit the court to modify or even terminate probation supervision.
Additionally, this piece of legislation would ensure sexual offenders remain registered under Megan’s Law. The language addresses the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Muniz. In that case, the court held that Megan’s Law could not be applied to defendants who committed their crimes before the enactment of the Adam Walsh Act in 2012 based on both the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution.
“With the implementation of this legislation, up to 17,000 sexual offenders would not be removed from the state sexual offender registry,” said Marsico. “As legislators, our priority is keeping the communities in our Commonwealth safe. I feel as though we have come up with a comprehensive piece of legislation that would tackle the major flaws we had in our laws and do just that. I am confident that with the passage of this legislation, we are ensuring safer communities in Pennsylvania.”
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard, 717.652.3721