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May 28, 2011

Pennsylvania Supreme Court declares local sex offender residency restrictions preempted by state law

As reported in this Philadelphia Inquirer article, which is headlined "Pa. high court strikes down a county's Megan's Law residency restrictions," the top court in the Keystone State has ruled that local sex offender residency restrictions are preempted by state law.  Here is the start of the press report:

In a ruling with statewide ramifications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday invalidated an Allegheny County law that restricted where convicted sex offenders could live, saying the ordinance would banish offenders to "localized penal colonies" with little access to jobs, support, or even their families.

The seven justices concluded that the Western Pennsylvania county law was at odds with the state's "Megan's Law," which requires convicted sex offenders across the state to report their residency so that nearby residents can be notified, but does not restrict where offenders can live.

Allegheny County's ordinance, enacted in 2007, went further, prohibiting such offenders from living within 2,500 feet of any child-care facility, community center, public park or recreation center, or school.

While the precedent-setting decision applied specifically to Allegheny County, an estimated 150 municipalities, mostly near Pittsburgh, but also in Bucks and Delaware Counties, have enacted similar laws as public-safety measures in the last few years.  As of last year, there were more than 10,000 registered sex offenders in Pennsylvania.

I cannot yet seem to find a link to this notable ruling, but will provide one when it becomes available.

UPDATE:  A helpful reader forwarded this link to the opinion from the PA Supreme Court.

May 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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I want to thank you for posting this. I live in Allegheny County, and I sincerely hope this article will make people and governments start to rethink how they handle this situation. I am a Third generation survivor of sexual abuse, and my children make a fourth generation. I found an organization That gives me hope for a genuine answer to put an end to sexual abuse at least in regards to children and I believe it will help reduce other sex crimes as well. Stop It Now! is the name. I am including their URL in this comment.
If people will get out of their paper bags and start to openly discuss with one another what has happened in the past and how to rehabilitate offenders as well as be willing to be a part of the solution. I see a far better world out there not only for ourselves but for generations to come. Putting Senseless restrictions in place is not the answer. Get Educated in the facts. not rumours and emotion filled platitudes. http://www.stopitnow.org/press-release-freeh-report

Posted by: clementine | Sep 1, 2012 10:23:58 PM

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