PA court rules some aspects of sex offender registry constitute punishment

By Sandy . . . The case is T.S. v. Pennsylvania State Police; the decision can be viewed here.

A legal representative with PARSOL — Pennsylvania Assoc. for Rational Sexual Offense Laws — stated, “[The decision] is GOOD. It will be most helpful with our push to reform how the SVP label is applied just arbitrarily . . . ”

Janice Bellucci, an attorney, in writing about the decision, said, “The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an important decision on May 11, 2020, in which it determined that annual registration as well as publication of a registrant’s personal information on the internet constitutes punishment.  The petitioner in this case committed a sex offense prior to the effective date of these requirements.

“According to the Court, annual in-person registration ‘imposes affirmative restraints and probation-like conditions.’  The Court determined that the annual registration requirement was excessive.  The Court also ruled that the state law requiring the posting [of] a registrant’s personal information on a public lawsuit was punitive because  ‘. . . the Internet dissemination provision resembles history shaming punishments.’ ”

We expect more thorough analysis about this important case to be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.