October 25, 2012

More sex offenders to be on Centre County books when new law takes effect in December

10-25-2012 Pennsylvania:

BELLEFONTE — Centre County officials are moving to update the county’s system for registering sexual offenders ahead of a new state law set to take effect in December.

The bill, signed into law in December 2011 by Gov. Tom Corbett, will bring Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

The act is named after Adam Walsh, who was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and later found murdered. After his death, Walsh’s father, John Walsh, became an advocate for the victims of violent crimes, hosting the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”

The bill will result in a greater number of registered offenders in Pennsylvania and will require some offenders to report in more often, county commissioners heard at a meeting Tuesday morning.

“It’s a revamp of Megan’s Law,” said Andy Andrews, the county’s central booking coordinator. “They are adding more information, making more public information available and broadening the number of people who need to register.”

Andrews said there are about 23,000 registered sexual offenders in the commonwealth. The number is expected to jump to 84,000 under the new system.

The new bill closes loopholes in Megan’s Law regarding homeless and out-of-state offenders. It also requires some juvenile offenders to register for the first time, Andrews said.

County officials will also be processing some existing offenders more often. The bill calls for a three-tier system. The most serious offenders must report in every four months, while others must report every six months or once a year, Andrews said.

The county’s central booking center is in the Centre County Correctional Facility. The booking center has been, and will continue to be under the new law, where sexual offenders register in the county.

The county is seeking a $1,598 grant to purchase a new computer, digital signature pad and webcam to facilitate the system upgrades.

Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem said the existing booking center is largely funded by fees collected through criminal proceedings. ..Source.. by centredaily.com

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