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Pennsylvania Updates Sex Offender Law

Pennsylvania Governor Corbett has signed a bill that brings the state into compliance with federal laws on sex offender registration while at the same time fixing what some felt was a gap in existing state law.

An oversight in Pennsylvania's Megan's Law made it impossible for district attorneys to prosecute certain sex offenders for not checking in with State Police. The law allowed offenders from out-of-state and those without a fixed address to slip through the cracks. That included temporary workers and students.

At the same time, the new law will prevent group homes from providing residence to more than five sexually violent predators.

"It broadens Pennsylvania's law to make sexual contact with students and children a criminal charge of institutional sexual assault for volunteers, for employees, and other individuals in a school or center for children," said Corbett.

The Governor was surrounded by smiling district attorneys and law enforcement officers as he signed the bill.

"Our legislation increases the amount of information to be collected from sex offenders. It expands the list of sexually violent offenses covered by the law and requires that the state publish more information about each offender on its website," said Corbett. It also expands the registry to include violent juvenile sexual offenders. The changes bring the state up-to-speed with the federal Adam Welsh Law, which includes a mandate for states to submit names to a national registry.

States had until this past summer to come into compliance with the new coordinated sex offender registration effort or risk losing more than a million dollars in federal funding. Pennsylvania had been given one extension.

Megan's Law is named for Megan Kanko, a New Jersey child who was murdered by a sexual predator. The federal Adam Walsh law is named for a young Florida boy who was kidnapped at a department store and murdered.