A Pennsylvania man convicted of "possessing child porn"—that is, a 21-year-old arrested for possessing sexts from his 16-year-old girlfriend—will no longer have to register as a sex offender for life, thanks to a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Until now, any Pennsylvanian convicted more than once of certain sex crimes was required to stay on the registry until he died. That included people like "A.S.," the 21-year-old who was convicted of seven counts of "child porn" for one sexting relationship with an underage girlfriend. It was his case that went all the way to the state's supreme court. From now on, that court declared, "more than one conviction" will be interpreted to mean, "convicted another time of another crime," indicating actual recidivism. Otherwise, a person convicted just once will "only" be required to register for 15 years.
Of course, even 15 years seems outrageous, considering that our justice system was supposedly founded on the idea that if you do the crime you do the time, and then you resume your life. That redemption, available to con artists, drunk drivers and axe murderers is often not available to the person convicted of a sex crime—a fact even more outrageous when you consider that at least in A.S.'s situation, he was convicted of possessing pictures of a young woman, not a child. He was also sentenced to between 5 and 23 months in prison and five years probation. In America, the "child" in "child porn" can be anyone under 18.
Nonetheless, ignoring the fact that the law can still treat female teens like two-year-olds, and 20-something males like predators for dating girls old enough to marry, it is nice to know that A.S. will not be publicly shamed as a child porn addict through his 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.
Instead, he'll just be treated like a pervert for 15 years. In a society obsessed with sex offenders, that constitutes great news.
For those interested in hearing what's going on at the forefront of sex offender law reform, the Reform Sex offender Laws group (RSOL) is having its annual conference in Atlanta Sept. 16-19. Info is here.