Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On December 29, 2014 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upheld Ruling that Lifetime Registration for Juveniles is Unconstitutional

A Pennsylvania law that requires juveniles (between 14-18 years old) who commit the most serious types of sex crimes to register with police for life is unconstitutional because it breeches the youngsters' civil rights. 

In a 5-1 decision Pennsylvania’s highest court upholds earlier rulings by judges in York and Montgomery counties against the juvenile sex offender registration rules of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). 

The Pennsylvania Legislature passed the mandate in 2011 to align with the Federal law, Adam Walsh Act AWA/SORNA. 

The Supreme Court's majority opinion, written by Baer, comes seven months after the justices heard arguments on the case.

These burdens, Justice Baer notes, undermine a central goal of the juvenile justice system, which is supposed to let people recover from youthful mistakes. He brings that point home by quoting a 2012 opinion from the Ohio Supreme Court: 

For a juvenile offender, the stigma of the label of sex offender attaches at the start of his adult life and cannot be shaken. With no other offense is the juvenile's wrongdoing announced to the world. Before a juvenile can even begin his adult life, before he has a chance to live on his own, the world will know of his offense. He will never have a chance to establish a good character in the community. He will be hampered in his education, in his relationships, and in his work life. His potential will be squelched before it has a chance to show itself. 

See articles on ruling below. 


Pennsylvania's Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Is Unconstitutional, State Supreme Court Rules, December 31, 2014

Pa. Supreme Court changes sex offender label for juveniles, December 31, 2014

Lifetime Registration for Juvenile Sex Offenders Overturned in Pennsylvania, December 30, 2014

Lifetime registration mandate for juvenile sex offenders is unconstitutional, Pa. Supreme Court says, December 29, 2014

Pa. high court throws out lifetime sex-offender registration for juveniles, December 30, 2014

Pennsylvania Supreme Court declares state's sex offender registration regulations violate juvenile offenders' due process rights, December 29, 2014