Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Requirement Before Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Supreme Court/TwitterPennsylvania Supreme Court/TwitterThe Pennsylvania Supreme Court is weighing whether it's constitutional to force all juvenile sex offenders to sign up with the state sex offender registry. Lawyers say the registration requirement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

As of 2012, Pennsylvania law requires anyone 14 years of age or older who is convicted of rape, aggravated indecent assault, or the conspiracy to commit one of these crimes to register for life with the state's sex offender registry. They can petition for removal from the registry only after 25 years, and only if they've had no subsequent offenses, even of a non-sexual nature.

The case comes before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after an appeal by the state of a lower court's ruling. In November 2013, a judge weighing the case, brought in the interest of seven juvenile sex offenders, ruled that the registration law violated the state constitution.

"As is all too common with juvenile sex offenders, their lives too have been marred by tragedies, traumas, addictions, abuse and personal victimization," wrote Common Pleas Judge John C. Uhler in his decision. "Fortunately, as is also common with juvenile offenders, they have demonstrated a great capacity and willingness to rehabilitate and make better lives for themselves."

According to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), juvenile sex offenders have a recidivism rate of about 7 percent, compared to 13 percent for adult sex offenders (and 45 percent for all crimes). Recidivism concerns are the main reason given for requiring juvenile sex offenders to register long-term with the state. 

But as youth offenders try to rebuild their lives, being on the sex offender registries can seriously hinder their chances of doing so. Being on the registry means restrictions on where they can live, work, go to school, and spend time. And once on the registry, juvenile offenders must verify their information in person every 90 days or face mandatory felony prosecution, which carries a prison sentence of at least three to seven years.

Effectively, the requirement can shuffle juvenile offenders back into the prison system for matters unrelated to re-offending, at any time during the next few decades. "These onerous reporting and registration requirements ... set up youth for failure and inevitable subsequent criminal court involvement," says the Juvenile Law Center, a nonprofit juvenile law advocacy organization which argued the case of one of the juvenile offenders. 

According to the Associated Press, Pennsylvania judges increasingly agree with juvenile law advocates that automatic registries undermine rehabilitation efforts and force judges to treat all offenders the same, without taking context into account. 

Each U.S. state has its own set of sex offender laws and registry requirements, and some are more severe for young offenders than Pennsylvania's. Sex offender registry requiring offenses can range from crimes like rape and molestation to things like public nudity or consensual sex between teens. "Many people assume that anyone listed on the sex offender registry must be a rapist or a pedophile," HRW fellow Nicole Pittman said. "But most states spread the net much more widely."

For a more in-depth look at sex offender registries in the U.S., check out this 2012 report from Reason TV.

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  • Hyperion||

    Good grief, first the suspension of the 4th amendment in PA, and now more fascist shit?

    PA has went full on retard.

  • Hyperion||

    Anyway, with shit like this and the recent 'every woman on campus is being raped by every male, all of the time', let's just cut to the fucking chase and put every male on a list, at birth, for being male.

    Then, the Feminazis and the Muslims can fight the end all to all wars, until everyone is dead. Problem solved.

  • Zeb||

    Stop giving them ideas.

  • Hyperion||

    There isn't any possibility that I can give them any ideas half as deranged as the ones they will come up with on their own.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm wondering when sex offenders are going to get microchipped. I mean, that's the next step, right? They want to put chips into everyone, right? Sex offenders are the logical place to start. They're not human. They're sex offenders. Then what, felons? Then once it becomes common enough, parents will ask that their children be chipped, then it will be a requirement for public schools, and before you know it everyone is sporting a government microchip!

    /adjusts foil hat

  • William of Purple||

    the sex offenders.

  • sarcasmic||

    Band name!

  • ||

    In David Brin's Sundiver he introduces the idea of "Probationers" who are people that are tested to see if they have "violent tendencies" (the test is very subjective) and if they are deemed to have them, they are chipped and not allowed in certain areas. He seems to have introduced the idea to explore the subjects of pre-crime and the like, but then unfortunately lets the subject go as the book goes on and doesn't really do much with it.

  • Hyperion||

    That's weak tea. What's really needed is some sort of thought wave monitors in all public places. Then anytime some guy looks at a womans ass in tight jeans and thinks, 'Wow, I'd bang that', out from the shadows comes the thought police to immediately arrest and put him on all the lists and strip him of all constitutional rights. This is the brave new proggie paradise. All unpure thoughts shall be purged from the world, it will be heaven. You will 'choose purity', or it will be chosen for you.

  • Idle Hands||

    just cut to chase and neuter all the men.

  • Zeb||

    Gonna need a lot of thought police. And they'll all have to be frigid women or eunuchs.

  • Hyperion||

    I don't know, every time the government offers jobs that involve violating other peoples right, they seem to line up in droves. I doubt this will be any different. Offer a good paying cushy job, and no matter how despicable the job duties are, there will be plenty willing to do it.

  • Zeb||

    But they will have to arrest pretty much every man they see.
    Though I suppose if as is usual with police they don't have to follow most of the rules they are meant to enforce, you shouldn't have any recruitment problems.

  • Rasilio||

    I read a sci fi short where a communist party takes over the earth, scientists devise a way to test the loyalty of a person by remotely reading their brain waves and are forced to develop this into a weaponized system that instantly kills anyone disloyal to the party. They then deploy these to every government installation on the planet and turn them on.

    Turns out the scientist was disloyal and "reversed the polarity" so that it basically assasinated the entire party hierarchy pretty much simultaneously.

  • ||

    Don't parents already ask for their children to be chipped? They ask for them to be fingerprinted, and pet owners do the chip thing, so I just assumed.

  • sarcasmic||

    I know people chip their pets, but I've never heard of chipping children. That's creepy.

  • ||

    It just wouldn't surprise me, is all.

  • ||

    It apparently hasn't happened yet. But brace yourself.

  • Zeb||

    Children who are not babies are usually a lot better at identifying themselves than pets are. The chips don't work for tracking, just identification from close up, so there wouldn't be a lot of point putting them in your children. Yet. Probably in 10 years it will be unthinkable not too. 20 years ago I never would have guessed that 7 year olds would be riding in car seats.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only reason they're in car seats is because of mandatory air bags.

  • Zeb||

    In the back seat?

    I thought riding in the front was right out for anyone under 16 anymore.

  • Brett L||

    Fucking Florida just raised the mandatory car seat age to like, 17. Motherfucking scum. Make it just that much more expensive for no harm reduction.

  • Zeb||

    When I was 5 and my state first had a law requiring anyone under 6 to wear a seat belt, I was pissed.

    I survived just fine rolling around on the floor or in the way-back.

  • Zeb||

    I don't know if they still do it, but in my two seat truck there is a key hole that you can use to turn off the passenger airbag, presumably for when small people likely to be damaged by airbags are riding there.

  • Brett L||

    You know the fingerprinting is so that the coroner's office has an easier time, not the detectives, if the kid goes missing, right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    These are the kinds of things they think up in a state capital that has full-time legislators where there should be a fraction of the number and part-time.

  • Zeb||

    You don't want too few, though. Then it's too easy for them to agree on stuff and move things along quickly.

  • Jordan||

    Screw this half-assed shit. Microchip everyone at birth and send their fingerprints and a DNA sample to the FBI. If it saves just one life...

    FOR TEH CHILDRENZ!!1

  • Meerkatx||

    Oh come on now. How do we expect for profit prisons to remain good business if we don't ensure people can easily become prisoners?

  • Hyperion||

    Well, to be fair, eveyone... I mean, the serfs, are committing 3 felonies a day, and most of them are getting away with it! Anarchy!

  • R C Dean||

    Of all the reasons why minors shouldn't be put on registries, well, this is probably the worst:

    their lives too have been marred by tragedies, traumas, addictions, abuse and personal victimization

    Because of the FEELZ!

  • Number 2||

    "According to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), juvenile sex offenders have a recidivism rate of about 7 percent, compared to 13 percent for adult sex offenders (and 45 percent for all crimes)."

    Wait a minute! I thought that all sex offenders were subhuman, perverted weirdos who could never reform and were 100%+ likely to repeat their crimes because the perverts simply cannot control themselves! You don't mean to tell me that legislators were exaggerating, do you? Because that would never happen.

  • Zeb||

    The big problem there is who gets lumped into the sex offenders category. When it includes people who get blowjobs in the bushes at night and who urinate in public on the list, of course most aren't going to be serious pervs who can't help themselves. And even if you look at just rapists and child molesters, the recidivism rate is probably higher than 13%, but still probably lower than a lot of people imagine.

  • Mr. Weebles||

    Lawyers say the registration requirement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

    Although I'm hesitant to be seen as sympathetic to adult sex offenders, if registration is "cruel and unusual punishment" for juveniles, why isn't it considered the same for adult sex offenders?

  • Bob Mitchell||

    I like this judge's thinking. He is informed and compassionate.I've had experience with kids in this situation and it becomes clear real fast if their habitual.

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