Pennsylvania and SORNA: Take two

By Aaron J. Marcus . . . Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shook up long-settled orthodoxy by ruling that the state’s sex offender registration law, otherwise known as SORNA (Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act) was punishment. The case, Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2018), presented the Court with two questions: whether people who committed their crimes before the…

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Appeals court provides new vehicle to challenge registration

By Larry . . . We are excited to report that registrants in Pennsylvania now will have a new vehicle to challenge sex offender registration. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court handed down a precedential decision on February 27th that has the potential to be significant going forward. See Piasecki v. Court of Common Pleas,…

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How Big Money Stymies S.O. Reform

By Michael M . . . When SORNA (Sex Offender Registration Notification Act, aka Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006) required the states to establish comprehensive minimum standards for their state sex offender registries, it created an unfunded mandate that left many states scrambling to comply or lose Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding…

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The abomination of the sex offender registry

By Jesse Kelley . . . The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that at least 95 percent of all state prisoners will be released from prison at some point. However, convicted sex-offenders almost exclusively face the vengeful, additional punishment of registration under the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act (SORNA). Generally, under SORNA, an individual who is required to register as a sex…

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Pennsylvania Legislature attempts to “fix” unconstitutional law

By Paula Reed Ward . . . A bill introduced this week in Harrisburg attempts to fix flaws in the state’s sex-offender registration system identified in a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in July and could affect more than 10,000 registrants. Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, called it “imperative” to amend the law. “We have worked hard to come up with a…

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PA’s “sexually violent predator” process ruled unconstitutional

By Eric Scicchitano . . . A panel of appellate judges ruled last week that Pennsylvania’s established process to designate a convicted sex offender as a “sexually violent predator” is unconstitutional. The Superior Court decision in a Butler County case found that the process — the designation carries lifetime registry and counseling under the state’s Megan’s Law — should not…

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International Meagan’s Law damages a person’s reputation

By Will Bassler . . . International Meagan’s Law  makes passports for registered citizens only valid for 1 year (instead of 10). in violation of the 14th amendment equal protection clause. The law requires registered citizens to report all their travel itinerary directly to the department responsible 21 days prior to international travel. Failure to do so is cause for…

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Pittsburgh’s largest daily asks Supreme Court to review Muniz case

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board . . . The state Supreme Court has thrown into question the registration of as many as 4,500 sex offenders statewide. The case giving rise to the ruling originated in Cumberland County, and officials there have 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They should file the appeal to gain clarity on two important…

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Michigan files supplemental brief replying to solicitor general

By Robin . . . Claiming that the Solicitor General’s amicus brief is unpersuasive, Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, has filed a supplemental brief in reply. The Solicitor General filed a brief in early July at the request of the Supreme Court which sought to hear the federal government’s perspective on Snyder v. Doe (a pending petition from Michigan seeking…

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AWA Loses in Pennsylvania’s Highest Court

By Larry Neely . . . What follows was composed utilizing portions of an analysis written by Aaron Marcus of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. We will endeavor to answer some of the most common questions that arise after a favorable decision has been handed down. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the current (2012) version of Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender…

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