Marsico Introduces Legislation to Mandate Probation for the Most Dangerous Sex Offenders
HARRISBURG – House Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) has introduced legislation to increase public safety by requiring courts to impose a mandatory three-year probation period to immediately follow the release of serious sex offenders from prison.
“These people pose a serious risk to public safety when they are released back into the community without a level of supervision to monitor their transition,” said Marsico. “Megan’s Law, which requires registration as a sex offender, may provide law enforcement and the community with information about their residence, work and school locations. However, without parole or probation supervision there is little way of knowing whether a serious sex offender is making an appropriate adjustment from incarceration to freedom, and there are no consequences for failing to engage in positive efforts to turn his or her life around unless the person commits another crime.”
Inmates who are released from prison because they have served the maximum sentence imposed by the court are not normally subject to any supervision by state parole or the court. Even if paroled before maxing out, the period of parole supervision may be short, depending on how close to their maximum term they were released.
“According to data from the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, sex offenders are the most likely to serve the full maximum term or close to it before being released. There are various reasons for this but a significant percentage of maxed-out sex offenders remain incarcerated until the end of their term because they have refused to take responsibility for their crimes or have failed to cooperate with treatment and other rehabilitation programs during confinement,” said Marsico. “As a result, these people pose a serious risk to public safety when they are released back into the community without a level of supervision to monitor their transition.”
Marsico’s legislation would require the court to impose a mandatory three-year probation period consecutive to any term of total confinement for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act. Under existing law, the court will have the flexibility to order supervision by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, or county probation. If a person is paroled and adequately adjusts to freedom under parole supervision, current law would permit the court to modify or even terminate probation supervision.
“I believe that mandatory supervision either by the court or the Board of Probation and Parole will enhance public safety by permitting better monitoring a convicted sex offender’s daily activities,” said Marsico. “If the person does not comply with the terms of supervised release, of course, he may be found in violation and returned to prison for the balance of the period of supervision.”
House Bill 631
is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard, 717.652.3721