[JURST] The Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-1 last week that the requirement that all sex offenders who were juveniles at the time of their crimes must remain on the Megan’s Law Registry for life is unconstitutional. The court upheld a 2013 decision by a York County judge that struck down portions of the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The court declared the law unconstitutional because it allowed no appeal and assumed that all juvenile sex offenders posed a high risk of committing crimes as adults, even though according to studies, barely one percent of them commit new crimes. In addition to public contempt, being on the Megan’s Law Registry required offenders to report quarterly to state police and report changes of address, job or personal appearance within three days.
In June 2013 the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the federal government can compel a convicted sex offender to register with the SORNA even if the offender completed his sentence before SORNA was enacted. In February 2009 a judge in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website] held that the statute violates the Commerce Clause [text] of the US Constitution by making it a federal crime for a sex offender to move to another state while failing to register in a nationwide database. Sex offender laws have been increasingly criticized [JURIST report] for limiting residence options and promoting ostracization.