Judge says PA juvenile sex crimes law is unconstitutional
Juveniles who are convicted of sex crimes in here in Pennsylvania may face very harsh consequences. One of the biggest and most debated of those consequences is having juvenile sex crimes offenders be required to register as sex offenders on the registered sex offender list—a list made public. Current state law requires juvenile sex crimes offenders who are age fourteen and older to register as sex offenders for at least twenty-five years for some offenses. This law is mirrored after the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Pennsylvania’s treatment of juvenile sex crimes offenders is seen as too harsh by opponents of the law. Those opposed feel that requiring teenagers to register as a sex offender for the next twenty-five years does not allow for juveniles to receive a second chance and learn from their mistakes. Instead, it requires them to be on the state’s sex offender registry, which makes it difficult for them to become a contributing member of society, find gainful employment, and even find a place to live. People who oppose requiring juvenile sex crimes offenders to register on the sex offenders list believe they deserve a second chance since they are not yet adults. A recent court ruling shows that some court judges also believe in second chances. For the second time, a state court judge ruled the sex offender registration requirement for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional. Judges in two counties in PA have ruled that the law is unconstitutional, and one of the cases is heading to the Supreme Court. Supporters of changing the juvenile sex offender requirement hope that the Supreme Court will also rule that the law is unconstitutional, which would help many juvenile sex offenders have a better chance of being part of a community instead of a labeled offender. There are many sides and opinions to be considered in this case. For now, juvenile offenders convicted of sex crimes will have to wait and see what happens before the requirements will change.