Josh Shapiro has warned that changing the state’s sex offense registry requirements threatens public safety. But experts say his fears are unfounded and the registry provides little to no public safety benefit.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to rule on five cases this year that could change how the state treats people convicted of sex offenses, and could ease the state’s sex offense registry restrictions, commonly referred to as Megan’s Law.
But in a December opinion piece, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro warned that if the court were to “dismantle” the state’s sex offense registry it would “put the public at risk,” and Pennsylvania could become a “safe haven” for people convicted of a sexual offense.
“A loss [for the state] in even one of [the cases] would be a loss for children’s safety across our state,” he wrote in the Morning Call, an Allentown newspaper.
Shapiro’s assertions that the state and its residents would be in danger if the registry goes away is not born out in fact, said Kelly Socia, a professor of criminology at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
“The research that we have shows that there is very little evidence registries help to reduce sex crimes,” Socia told The Appeal. “It’s not just that they aren’t preventing sex crimes but they are not reducing sex crimes at all.”
“I don’t think the public should be concerned if the registry goes away,” he said.