FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry Neely
RSOL Legal Committee
Today marks the beginning of enforcement of a controversial new state law that purports to protect citizens from registered sex offenders. RSOL’s executive director Brenda Jones stated, “It is disappointing that Pennsylvania’s lawmakers chose to ignore the lessons learned when Ohio proceeded down this same disastrous path more than five years ago.” Ohio was the first state to be deemed AWA complaint, but the courts subsequently have found several aspects of Ohio’s new law unconstitutional. After expending millions of taxpayer dollars defending an unconstitutional law, Ohio was forced to revert back to the old registration system for those sentenced prior to the new law’s enactment.
Jones stated that provisions of Pennsylvania’s new law “transform what is supposed to be a non-punitive, civil regulatory measure into a form of lifetime probationary supervision for most persons on the registry,” which RSOL believes to be blatantly unconstitutional. “And further,” she continues, “all individuals on Pennsylvania’s registry will see their registration periods dramatically increase, with the majority becoming life-timers. This,” she emphasized, “is a violation of the ex post facto clause.”
Jones stated that although the new law was touted by its supporters as necessary to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA), “It does little if anything to improve public safety, and any marginal benefit achieved is at the expense of trampling over our most cherished constitutional protections.”
Jones concluded her remarks by saying, “It is most unfortunate that RSOL must undertake such a challenge, but make no mistake about it; we cannot and will not stand by while public policymakers shred the constitution and disregard their oaths of office.”
RSOL promotes the elimination of sexual abuse and the preservation of civil rights for all individuals through the use of effective legislation based on empirical research. We envision sexual offense laws based on equal justice and respect for the dignity of all people, protection from retroactively applied punishment, and the establishment of fact-based laws and policies which protect our communities.