December 17, 2011

Stephens Successful in Strengthening 'Megan's Law'

Take Note: The method of classification in this bill is not the method used in the Adam Walsh Act! Pennsylvania will use its own "Assessment Board" to assign the Tier Levels. Will the SMART Office allow this?

UPDATE: A reader corrects me, this article is poorly written, the Classification system to be used IS THE ONE FROM AWA!
12-17-2011 Pennsylvania:

The legislation would make it a felony for teachers to have sex with students.

Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Todd Stephens aimed at providing better protection for children is awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett's signature.

The soon-to-be-enacted law would bring the state into compliance with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and would close loopholes in the state's Megan's Law.

Senate Bill 1183 also included provisions proposed by Stephens to prohibit sexual conduct between students and school employees making it a felony of the third degree punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000. This initiative was first proposed by Stephens’s former colleagues on the sex crimes unit in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

“We must insure our children are protected from sexual predators,” Stephens (R-151) of Horsham, said in a press release. “The package sent to Gov. Corbett incorporates many proposals offered to make sure the law effectively guards our kids from harm, including my proposal to criminalize sexual conduct between students and school employees such as teachers and coaches.”

The Adam Walsh Act is a federal law that was developed in order to ensure every state has the same set of comprehensive standards that strengthen the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs. Under federal law, failure of any state to come into what the Department of Justice terms “substantial compliance” with the Adam Walsh Act results in a state forfeiting 10 percent of its federal grant.

In keeping with the dictates of the Adam Walsh Act, the legislation:
---Places offenders in a three-tiered system depending upon the severity of the offense. Individuals convicted of a: Tier I offense must register for 15 years; Tier II offense must register for 25 years; and Tier III offense must register for life.

---Requires sex offenders in each tier to appear in person to be photographed and to verify and update information in the state sexual offender registry. Sexual offenders in the three tiers are required to appear annually (Tier I), every six months (Tier II), or every 90 days (Tier III).

---Requires that after a sex offender registers or updates registration in the sexual offender registry, notification be provided to law enforcement, probation and parole, schools and social service agencies responsible for protecting children.

---Authorizes the Pennsylvania State Police to launch a new feature on the sexual offenders Web site that will enable members of the general public to obtain information on sex offenders for any given ZIP code or geographic radius.
In addition, the legislation maintains the major components currently found in Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law and closes loopholes for homeless and out-of-state sex offenders.

As is the current practice, the bill provides that every sexual offender be assessed by the Sexual Offender Assessment Board. Further, the bill requires that if certain criteria is met that the offender be designated a sexually violent predator. Such a designation, as under current law, requires that notification be made to neighbors and others in the community.

“It is critical we protect our children from those who would abuse their positions of trust and superiority,” Stephens said. “We should never tolerate teachers or coaches having sexual contact with our students.” ..Source.. by Theresa Katalinas

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