Monday, March 14, 2011

Megan's Law Loopholes

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is calling on the legislature to eliminate loopholes in Megan's Law which requires sex offenders to register with the state.The D.A.'s group says a gap in the law allows out-of-state sex offenders to come into Pennsylvania and not be penalized for not joining the Pennsylvania Sex Offenders Registry.

The state's prosecutors are seeking to plug a loophole in Megan's Law that allows convicted sex offenders moving to Pennsylvania and homeless offenders to escape penalties for failing to register.

Greg Rowe, the legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Office Association says that this is a broad Public Safety issue.

"District Attorneys from around the state in many different counties have experienced this problem."

Dave Freed, Cumberland County District Attorney, says he has seen at least six of these loophole cases in his county, and that the legislation just corrects the original drafting problems.

"It's not that anyone in the legislature wanted to protect out of state offenders or protect homeless offenders it was simply that the drafting didn't cover it. What this fix does is cover it, and closes the loopholes."

State Representative Bryan Cutler is the co-sponsor of the bill that has passed the House. Cutler says that it's hard to tell how many out of state offenders are out there.

"I don't know that we can have an estimate at this time because they're not required to register under some of the offenses and some of the loopholes that are out there."

Language to remove these loopholes was included in Castle Doctrine legislation that was approved last November but vetoed by then Governor Ed Rendell. The Castle Doctrine bill would have expanded a citizen's right to use deadly force to defend himself.

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