PARSOL Responds to May 23, 2023 SCOPA Hearing

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (PARSOL) strongly urges the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to uphold Chester County Judge Allison Bell Royer’s finding in the case of Comm. v. George Torsilieri that Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is unconstitutional. 

Royer found that “SORNA is unconstitutional both facially and as applied to this Defendant on the bases that it employs an irrebuttable presumption that is not universally applicable and because its punitive nature offends Alleyne and Apprendi; results in a criminal sentence in excess of the statutory maximums; violates Federal and State proscriptions against cruel and unusual punishment; and breaches the separation of powers doctrine.”

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania heard arguments today from Commonwealth attorney Ronald Eisenberg, Esq. that “sex offenders” are highly likely to recidivate, to which the Justice Christine Donahue replied that, according to the record for this case, “80 to 95 percent of [past] offenders are likely NOT to recidivate.” 

“The fact that people can and do change is an important cornerstone of PARSOL’s core values,” said PARSOL Legislative Director Randall Hayes. “Prevention, treatment, and healing are possible. We take a person-first approach to criminal justice reform that cultivates a fair and just society, honors inherent dignity, and promotes respect and fairness.” 

“Decades of research states that sex offense registries are not only ineffective, but the damage they cause to individuals’ reputations is also known to increase the likelihood of re-offense,” added Theresa Robertson, Ph.D., PARSOL executive director. “We work to provide resources and advocacy for Pennsylvania citizens who struggle daily with the added burden placed upon them by public registries.”

Appellee attorney Aaron Marcus, Esq. agreed in his argument, stating, “There is a difference between the conviction and the effect of the registry’s label of a ‘high risk of danger’ on individuals, particularly things like unemployment and joblessness, houselessness, depression, and even suicide are affected by the label. SORNA says that individuals on this registry pose a risk of sexual danger, not just at the time of conviction, but now and forever into the future as long as they are on the registry.”

Eisenberg repeatedly stated that it is not the court’s position to determine the legislature’s foundation for creating a public registry in his argument. Yet, the constitutionality of the legislation and the administration’s actions in enacting it is very much in the court’s purview. 

“We continue to call on our legislators and policymakers to avoid supporting knee-jerk fear-based legislation and public policy and, instead, implement fact-based ones as recommended by the American Law Institute,” added Hayes. “These recommendations include ending the practice of public sex offense registries, restricting registry information to law enforcement and legitimate background checks, a standardized registration period, and clear definitions and penalties for misusing registry information.”

The Court hearing can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xB9LwPC7EI

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From what I heard on the recording this morning it seemed like the Chief Justice wasn’t buying what the commonwealth was selling. The men on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. They seemed to rely on a slippy slope fallacy.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jack

Very interesting SCoPA hearing this morning! The Chief Justice commented on the excellent presentation by both attorneys.
Now ….. we wait. 🤷🏻‍♂️

well like the judges said if we over turn this then where does it stop imo the court may do a mi job n tell the state to remove lifetime and provide a way off in x amount of days or they are going to toss it. i just dont think they will thow out the law that easily especially with it possibble opening the right to arms

After listening to the proceedings, I’m sorry, but it does not look good for us!!! The judges seem too scared to change anything afraid that it will affect gun laws also. I am tired and worn out!! I truly die inside every time one of my kids are picked on or have comments made to them about something that happened before any of them were even born!! I only had a year probation and 10 registration and one year left they changed it to life and now been forced to do this for 21 years!! I’ve had trips to hospital and I really try to be strong for my kids but I feel like a complete failure and loser. Especially when one of the people to say something to one of my children was their own teacher. Someone that my child is supposed to look up to and not feel bullied by 😔 I feel like this will never change and this case didn’t help us at all!! It just didn’t sound good at all to me 😔

If they put me back on the list I’m just going to off myself. I can’t live like that anymore. Living in fear every day that I’m going to loose everything or be assaulted. No not anymore.