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Chester County Press

Dinniman to introduce bill strengthening Megan’s Law

06/25/2013 08:35PM ● By Acl

State Senator Andy Dinniman wants Pennsylvania to join the 30 other states with regulations on where convicted sexual offenders can live.

Dinniman has introduced legislation that would place a residency restrictions on those convicted of sexually abusing children and subsequently classified as sexually violent predators by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board. Such individuals would be prohibited from living within 1,500 feet of schools, playgrounds and daycare facilities. The bill, Senate Bill 1012, is already co-sponsored and supported by fellow senators from both sides of the aisle, which dramatically increases its chances for passage.

“Protecting children must be a top priority for government,” said Dinniman. “That’s why we passed Megan’s Law in 1995 – to better protect Pennsylvanians and especially children from those who have committed horrible crimes in the past. My bill adds another, important layer to this protection.”

Under Megan’s Law, individuals convicted of certain sexual offenses are assessed by the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board and required to register with the state police. Those found by the assessment board to have a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent behavior are classified as “sexually violent predators” and fall under public notification requirements carried out by local law enforcement officials. 

Under Dinniman’s bill, sexually violent predators would now also have to comply with the residency restrictions. For those the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board does not deem to be sexually violent predators, any residency restrictions would be determined by the courts.

Local governments’ attempts at restricting the residency of sexual offenders have been struck down by the courts. In May 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down Allegheny County’s attempts to restrict where sex offenders could live, saying that the local law undermined the General Assembly’s policies of rehabilitation and was also pre-empted by Megan’s Law.

“Pennsylvania’s courts have ruled Megan’s Law doesn’t allow for local control on this issue, so the only solution is for the state to amend and strengthen Megan’s Law,” Dinniman said.

Dinniman said he decided to introduce the bill after a constituent was greatly concerned after learning that a registered sex offender was living across the street from her son’s elementary school.

For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s West Chester Office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail [email protected].