Monday, March 3, 2014

Megan's Lawbreakers No offenders should slip through gaps, lawmakers say

Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014



Local and state lawmakers say they want to take a deeper look at the Megan’s Law system and communication between state and local law enforcement to ensure that noncompliant offenders don’t go unchecked.
“Given the nature of these offenders, it does make it concerning that we seem to be losing track of them,” said Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, of Horsham, a former Montgomery County prosecutor. “This definitely needs to be looked at. We need to ensure our law enforcement agencies are working together so no offenders fall through gaps in the system.”

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, is concerned about gaps in the reporting system, his spokesman John Rizzo said. Casey plans to look closely at the issue in the “coming weeks” and will press federal officials to fill any gaps.
“It’s critical that the federal government is working with state and local partners to keep accurate information on known sex offenders,” Casey said. “The information must be accurate and accessible to the appropriate law enforcement officials in order to keep vulnerable children safe.”
Veteran state lawmaker Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-8, of Bensalem, introduced Pennsylvania’s first Megan’s Law legislation when he was a state House representative in 1994. Pennsylvania was the second state to introduce and adopt the sex offender registration requirements. He also supported SORNA’s implementation in the state.
Tomlinson called it “disturbing” that some registered sex offenders have remained noncompliant for months before their whereabouts are investigated. He plans to request a report from Pennsylvania State Police on how the registry is working and how it can be improved.
“These people need to be monitored all the time,” Tomlinson added.
Montgomery County’s Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, of Huntingdon Valley, introduced Megan’s Law into the Senate in 1994, but did not support the implementation of SORNA. He says the original intention of Megan’s Law and the public registry was to identify and monitor offenders who are at high risk for violence and re-offending and, when necessary, alert the public.
But over the years efforts on the state and federal fronts call for adding more sexual crimes and types of offenders to the registry — offenders who are not violent or compulsive — Greenleaf said.
If the trend to expand offenses continues, he worries the registry will become unmanageable.
“Part of the problem is continuing to add people to the list. As a result we have created a bureaucracy that is not sustainable and we’re not supplying enough money,” Greenleaf said. “We have to address it in the Legislature. We can learn from this.”

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