By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the second time in three months, a state court judge has ruled that Pennsylvania’s juvenile sex offender registration requirement is unconstitutional.
The Pennsylvania law is based on the federal Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act and requires juveniles age 14 and older who are convicted of certain sex offenses to register as sex offenders for at least 25 years.
“It is essentially a scarlet letter, it brands them as dangerous individuals,” says Marsh Levick of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. She helped challenge the law and says requiring lifetime registrations prevent juveniles from changing their life, getting into school and gaining housing.
“We call juvenile court the court of second chances,” she says, “this law takes away that second chance.”
So far courts in York and Monroe Counties have ruled the registration requirement is unconstitutional. With at least one appeal headed to the Supreme Court.
“I think that it will give judges pause at this point until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules,” says Levick noting that there is one additional challenge currently pending.
Research shows that teen sex offenders are unlikely to reoffend.
In some states– children as young as 8 years old convicted of a myriad of crimes are required to register as sex offenders.