Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Challenge to PA Sex Offender Law Begins: National Group Cites Costs and Unconstitutional Provisions

RSOL, Post Office Box 36123 

Albuquerque, NM 87176

For Immediate Release...
January 2, 2013
Contact: Robin van der Waal 202.709.3890.

 Albuquerque, NM—Reform Sex Offender Laws Inc. (RSOL) recently announced plans to challenge sections of Senate Bill 1183 (Pennsylvania’s new sex offender registration requirements) on multiple constitutional grounds (see first press release here). Today, RSOL began the process of notifying registered persons throughout Pennsylvania regarding the details of this new plan and will seek to organize affected citizens into an active group of advocates to contest the law.

Because the new law requires so many individuals to frequently report in person to a state police barracks for the remainder of their lives, RSOL asserts that the new law substantially violates both state and federal Constitutional protections guaranteed to the citizens it affects. RSOL asserts that these onerous new in-person reporting provisions transform registration into a form of lifetime probation supervision, and therefore, constitute punishment.  

Despite wide misconceptions, registration requirements are not part of a person’s actual sentence or punishment; rather, they are a collateral consequence of the individual's conviction. In fact, for public registration schemes to pass constitutional scrutiny, they cannot impose punishment either by design or effect. RSOL finds it problematic that this new law retroactively adds new offenses to the list of offenses requiring registration. This provision alone has the potential to undo an undetermined number of plea agreements because of representations made to defendants which helped induce them to plea. 

In support of this action, Brenda Jones, RSOL’s Executive Director, stated, “Even though enforcement of the controversial law has begun, RSOL is optimistic that many aspects of the law will ultimately be declared invalid by the courts, and, as a result, legislators in Harrisburg will be forced to revisit this issue. RSOL finds it incomprehensible that those responsible for the fiscal integrity of Pennsylvania have given such paltry consideration to the financial ramifications of SB 1183.”

In a presentation of talking points being made available to Pennsylvania registrants, Jones questioned whether legislators considered the financial impact of: