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PA: Attorney General – Cases could jeopardize Megan’s Law sex offenders registry

Survivors of sexual assault have shared with me their struggles in overcoming the traumatic harm caused by those who’ve preyed upon them. Their strength and courage inspires and drives me every day to pursue allegations of sexual abuse wherever we find it.

In 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by her neighbor — someone her parents did not know had two prior convictions for sexually assaulting young girls. Her death and memory made a profound impact on our nation and resulted in “Megan’s Law.”

Through Megan’s Law, survivors can keep track of their offenders by determining where they live, where they work and what car they drive. With this information, the Megan’s Law website enables survivors to avoid encountering their offenders. It empowers survivors and helps them gain some sense of control over their lives. …

In November, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments in cases that could dismantle the sex offender registration system and put the public at risk.

There are four cases before the court challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s system for monitoring sexual predators. A loss in even one of them would be a loss for children’s safety across our state. My team of deputy attorneys general argued to protect this critical statute. Full Opinion Piece by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Related

SORNA / Megan’s Law – Which Version Applies to You?

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  1. Dustin

    This is arguably the most misleading drivel I’ve ever read coming from an AG’s office. I’m going to write a very thorough reply and send it directly to his office. Suggest others do the same.

    • Joe123

      Please let this Knight in Shining Armor know that he should first start with tackling Domestic Violence, the real problem, if he Really wants to help the most vulnerable in society. What about the DUIs which have killed children?

  2. Chris f

    It’s a shame there is no public comment option to point out the absurdity of his fear mongering and tossing aside of the Constitution to gain votes to stay in office.

    I would love to pin him down in public and get him to admit that he thinks crimes can have punishments applied arbitrarily and retroactively by politicians and for an arbitrary length of time instead of being decided by the judge during the fair trial and tailored to the person and circumstances. Why not apply that policy to all crimes and eliminate half the role of judge and jury?

    Wonder how he feels about those that recidivate because of the registry keeping them from re integrating, or the offenders that never get charged or get help because the family or friends cover it up to avoid the negative effects of the registry on everyone?

    Such a one sided piece and so wrong it makes me ill.

    • New Person

      Agreed that this piece is fearmongering. He posits rhetoric without ample substance on recidivism rates.

  3. David

    @Dustin:. I agree with you 100% and emphasize MISLEADING. PA AG intentionally misuses fear-inspiring words such as “predator”. As an AG, he knows damn well that the vast majority of sexual offenses are being committed by individuals who are NOT on his beloved Registry. He alludes to this only near the end of his piece when he mentions “friend, family member, mentor or religious leaders.”
    As someone born in the Commonwealth, I hope & pray the PA Supreme Court rules in favor of both the PA and the U.S. Constitutions and strikes down PA’s Registry!!

  4. Anonymous

    If registries work so well, why doesn’t he advocate for DWI felon registry?

    • td777

      For that matter, why not just a registry for every type of felony? After all, if you look at those harmed by previously convicted meth and opiate dealers, that could possibly dwarf the number harmed by previously convicted sex offenders.

  5. Eric

    The DA’s are just trying to put the blame for Megan’s murder on any and everyone who commits an offense of a sexual nature regardless of what it involved. The true blame goes on the total inept justice system with all of it’s plea agreements and backdoor deals between attorneys and DA’s, and we all know the judges are unethically involved in this bargaining as well. It is true that Megan’s killer had two prior offenses, but the question is why did he have his first offense suspended, and then after that he had another hands on offense and received only six years. On his release it was reported by several counselors and his PO that he did not participate in his recovery classes, he was argumentative, disobedient, and showed no remorse or regret. It was reported by one counselor that his total disregard for his offender program greatly concerned her and she believed he would offend again. Yet, in spite of all that he was given a lenient sentence and released only to do a third offense and kill a child that time. so because of this total failure on the justice system the thousands of people who have low level offenses, people who haven’t’ reoffender in decades, people who did non-contact offenses all are required to be punished as if they were this depraved killer. The DA’s just can’t muster the integrity to say, “We failed Megan utterly.” Instead they will blame and unconstitutionally hold responsible thousands of people who had no relation to this crime.

    • Dustin

      @ Eric:

      Let’s not forget that the Kankas were perfectly aware that a prior sex offender was living at that residence (albeit not Megan’s assailant). Pretty sure her parents didn’t say “Stay away from that guy, but his roommates are okay.”

      Puts a really big hole in the claim that she would be alive today had the registry been in effect at the time.

    • Facts should matter

      @eric

      And they really are getting a whole lot of mileage out the J. Epstein fiasco. Even after his death, the story continues in the news cycles with the “guilt by association / judged by the company you keep” downfall of Prince Andrew. Now some woman is coming forward to “tell her story” to further incite hate against us. The media really knows how to stir the pot and profit from society’s pervasive fixation with sex, fear and outrage.

      And of course this DA is living in a fantasy world. Ya know.. the one where he thinks he’s making a difference?

  6. Jack

    Oh well. Protecting children is a noble goal, but that doesn’t give anybody the right to violate the constitution.

  7. Bill

    Wow, what a transparent bid for power by way of horsesh!t to feed the masses of the gullible which unfortunately are many.

    What better way to make a name for yourself than take on a group of people that are easy to vilify and misunderstood by nearly everyone?

    This is a culture that is raised to have a “us” vs. “them” mentality to begin with so it is natural for the masses to see in Manichean terms when it comes to sex crimes regardless of what they are.

    They see these types of charges as something done by monsters, that in no shape or form could be done by decent human beings. But then again, who commits these so-called atrocities?

    Priests. Teachers. Doctors. Police officers. Coaches. A Parent. An Uncle. An Aunt. Lawyers. News Anchors. Presidents. So much more…

    And yes, even Politicians and Law Makers.

    The problem with the Registry is that it has people looking in the wrong direction, like it is somewhere outside. These sex charges that get people registered range from truly severe crimes, like rape, to the absurd, like peeing in public, can be committed by anyone. In fact some can be circumstantial.

    This is not to excuse the actions but to recognize that what is inside the offender that commits these acts are in us all, it’s just that some of us let it out in various degrees. Some of them wrong and illegal.

    So this continual use of the Registry and continual bid of violating Registrants’ Constitutional rights are ultimately self-defeating because sooner or later it will sweep everybody up.

    Including Attorney Generals.

  8. Tim in WI

    Here this Pennsylvania AG is taking the oppositional stance to the Michigan AG’s opinion concerning the necessity and efficacy of the registration regime. Each are members of the Democratic party in their respective states. Oddly the female AG in MI calls it “bloated and ineffective” while her male counterpart bemoans the potential threats to the regime’s constitutional disposition the individual state cases are bringing to the table. The latter also laments what might happen in other jurisdictions if any of the PA defendants win their case. He is worried about the precedent that may be used to free men from their indenture to the machine database properties.

  9. NorthEastPENN

    Me being a PA registrant can’t wait to see how this turns out. Technically I will be off the registry by the end of 2020 but still want to see a positive affect with this ruling hoping it may bring down the registries over time in all the states.

    I most certainly feel trapped in PA. Can’t travel outside the commonwealth without worrying about the registration laws in each state. This is no “freedom of movement” in my eyes compared to someone not on the registry.

    The AG is using fear mongering and nothing less than that to push his agenda. Luckily the PA Supreme Court has ruled in our favor in the past so that is a promising thing for the future.

    I hate when articles like that do not give you the ability to leave a comment. Although you usually have to register your email address etc to do so and end up with tons of spam in your mailbox – urgh!! Where is the freedom of speech then? It is not free if you have to give your email address. Either make the comments sections free and clear for everyone or don’t have it!!

    • James

      @NorthEastPenn great to hear of your burden being lifted soon. Our hope is that you will continue to advocate as you are able.

      Our combined voices are far greater than our individual ones. Perhaps we could, with the right organization, be of greater influence in particular districts where we can have our rights better represented in our state assemblies. I imagine that there has to be some political districts in states across this country where registrants make up a significant segment, enough to sway the outcome of a state rep or even perhaps a senate seat. In the right venue, our vote could actually be seen as very desirable by open minded candidates, since no one else is courting our votes right now. Think of the possibility of having at least one rep. who will speak on our behalf and not be worried about their job because they have a solid voting block locked in. With almost a million registrants and their loved ones as potential votes, we have more influence than we realize.

  10. Anonymous

    Does he have the guts to replace the word “sexual abuse and “sex assault” with the words “DWI victims”, “Gang assault victims”, Domestic abuse victims” etc, etc. HE IS A PHONY & A POLITICAL HACK.

  11. Rs

    The headline should read “PA Attorney General jeopardizes constitution in favor of useless registry.” We’re already starting to see political hacks submit legislation to implement registries for additional crimes like domestic violence and animal abuse. The fact is, there should be NO registries for anything. Everyone who commits a crime gets to serve their sentence and pay their debt to society. When it’s all over, they have a right to be forgotten and live normal lives free from mob mentality tyranny. It’s alarming to see the pandering that happens anytime we’re even close to an election year. Hopefully this clown is exposed for what he is… a hack who is selling fear in exchange for votes.

  12. Facts should matter

    “It empowers survivors and helps them gain some sense of control over their lives”

    Actually, this statement is demonstrably false and part of the ongoing child safety propaganda mythos.
    What it DOES do for anyone accessing this information (not just would-be survivors) is give the viewer the illusion of control and normalcy over their personal safety and immediate family members.

    Megan’s Law gives the public a false sense of relief and reassurance in “knowing” where someone resides that has a prior sex conviction. This is not an informed decision, it’s a force perspective rooted in fabricated fear and the manufactured threats sex offenders pose.

    But, hey! Some people believe in Santa Claus and that gives them comfort.

    “Our Megan’s Law website and sexual offender registration system are essential to the public protection of Pennsylvanians, and they are essential in every state where they work.”

    PROVE IT!

    All it does is give the public psychological comfort!

    It offers zero intrinsic value and will never prevent the same thing the Kankas went through.

    Admit it!

    • Anon

      I was robbed once at gun point, he did a five years prison term and got out about 3 years ago( I guess) but I’ve zero for interest in ” knowing” where he is, living ,working ,volunteering etc. None. I doubt any victim of sex assault would. Who would want that??? Many children are molested by family or close friend or kin folk so how’s that for necessity from that perspective.

      I was satisfied with his sentence and found I wasn’t his first. I’ll bet he has a gun now.

  13. David

    Please note: You CAN submit a letter to the Editor of The Morning Call. I did:
    “Dear Editor,
    The Opinion Letter by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is a disingenuous rehashing of the standard false narratives about sexual offenses and those who commit them. Let’s look at the facts and the issues he chooses to ignore. #1: Those individuals on the sex offender Registry have a sexual offense recidivism rate of less than 1% (according to USDOJ data.) #2: The vast majority of new sexual offenses (95+%) are committed by individuals NOT listed on the Registry and most are committed by individuals known to the victim: stepfathers, uncles, coaches, family friends, babysitters and church leaders. Which brings us to #3: the AG mentions nothing about prevention of child sexual abuse, education of children and parents, preventative counseling for potential abusers, etc. Why not stop abuse BEFORE it ever happens?? #4: The Registry fulfills the prurient interests of the public while providing them a false sense of security and it continues to punish those who have already repaid their debts to society. Registrants suffer ongoing government-sponsored public shaming. They are routinely denied employment, housing, and government services. This persecution is done to no other group of ex-offenders.
    Pennsylvania”s Attorney General is misleading your readers.
    Signed,
    A Registered Ex-Offender”

    Note:. 200 word maximum.

    • Will Allen

      Thanks for fighting against the Registries. You are doing a good service for all Americans. Everyone should follow your lead.

      I’m not sure about the points you made though. Points #1 and #2 show that the Registries are working. Point #3 is also addressed by the Registries – the Registries are stopping attacks before they happen.

      • norman

        I wonder if we can find out what the numbers were before their was a registry..when I get some time I will start working on that..

        btw David great job on your letter..it is very inspiring

        • Will Allen

          There are some studies that have been done. I don’t have time to discuss it right now though.

          But I like to point out that the recidivism rate isn’t even relevant. It doesn’t matter what the rate is, the Registries make it worse. So it doesn’t matter if the rate was 5% or 70%, if you add Registries, it will be higher. Registries are counterproductive, just as all experts always said they would be.

          Registries do make “common sense”. But it takes very little effort to see that they are not even close to worth the damage that they cause ALL of society. It really isn’t even close. Registries are truly idiotic social policy.

          We can also easily understand that no one needs Registries either and that they do nothing of significant benefit. It does not help anyone to know that one neighbor (or whomever) is listed on the Registries and another is not. That’s of no help at all. You still have no idea which of the two has committed more $EX crimes. You certainly have no clue who is more dangerous than the other. The best you could hope for would be a guess. What good is that? You might guess that one of them might try to grab your child’s rear end (which is pretty easy to prevent in reality) but not guess which one will shoot your child in the face with a gun.

          I’ll go ahead and assume that anyone might have committed any crime. Or might in the future. Then I won’t need big government’s help to fake “protect” my family.

        • norman

          The point I’m trying to make is that the Registries make no difference whatsoever..like Operation Boo..a quick search and I found this..”However, by comparing arrest rates before and after the sex offender registration law was passed, the study found no significant difference between statistics before and after Megan’s Law was passed.” A passage from CBS news..
          https://www.cbsnews.com/news/megans-law-no-deterrent-to-sex-offenders/

          And then I found this..”This present study examines the sexual and general recidivism rates of 547 convicted sex offenders released before and after the enactment of Megan’s Law in New Jersey.” and..
          “These results highlight the lack of impact that sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws have on sexual and general reoffending rates postrelease.”
          https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0093854818771409?journalCode=cjbb

          I agree with allot of what you have to say Will Allen but the message imo needs to say that Megans Law like Operation Boo is a solution looking for a problem..

        • Will Allen

          @norman:

          I think you’ll find that all studies say that Registries do not improve public safety in any significant way. Every study.

          Without checking point by point, I think you and I are saying the same things.

          But I wouldn’t say that Megan’s Flaw is a solution looking for a problem. Because it’s not a solution at all. It’s just a flaw.

        • Dustin

          @norman:

          Recidivism rates of those who committed sex crimes pre-Megan’s Law were pretty much the same. Even then, 95+ percent of sex crime was committed by those without priors. Look up any DOJ recidivism study before 1995 – there are a handful.

  14. David

    Please submit you letters to The Morning Call’s Editor. All of us need to actively respond, fighting back against ALL such attacks EVERY TIME we see them.

  15. Tim in WI

    Ultimately if these parties complaints prevail an accounting of those who made the law must be had. The legislature and the Governors who chose must be held responsible for failing to adhere to the ex post prohibition. That clause was ratified with very sound reason. The “law” in question began with the following words. “A person in prison….for….A crime.” What more evidence is necessary than truth wrought by definition. Our leadership decided to utilize a database in an unstomachable manner against its own citizens. Ad hominen attacks are the way of bullies and tyrants, name calling and identity politics hand in hand.

    Now I know the surveillance saints are busy collecting metadata etc. on Americans, the vast majority completely unaware and completely innocent. They claim it’s content free but that too is a distorted & convenient. Scapegoats for electronic domestic surveillance saints.
    https://www.channel3000.com/news/national-news/homeland-security-wants-to-use-facial-recognition-on-us-citizens-too/1147526717

    https://www.eff.org

  16. Tim in WI

    It is rare to have one neighbor attack another, like WTC, when the first party did nothing first to the second. WTC was retaliatory for something! What that ‘somethings’ is I do not know!

    The first WTC basement attack occurred just as OMNIBUS 94 was being contemplated HR 5533 in Congress. When division of “all of the people becomes the default disposition.” Does SOR render\ promulgate trust or distrust among the community via the peculiar use of the database machine & infrastructure?

  17. CA Cool RC

    If you are afraid that any law will be thrown out of court. Then it likely that you know that Megan’s law is illegal and unconstitutional

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