HARRISBURG – House Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) was pleased that his legislation to increase public safety by requiring courts to impose a mandatory three-year probation period to immediately follow the convictions of serious sex offenders passed unanimously through the House today.
“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 their life around unless the person commits another crime.”
House Bill 446
would require the courts 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 has 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 permits the court to modify, or even terminate, probation supervision.
Inmates who are released from prison because they have served the maximum sentence imposed by the court are not subject to any supervision by state parole or the court following release. Even if paroled early, 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 inmates to serve the full maximum term, or close to it, before being released. There are various reasons for this, but a significant percentage of 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.
“I believe mandatory supervision either by the court or the Board of Probation and Parole will enhance public safety by permitting better monitoring of a convicted sex offender’s daily activities,” said Marsico. “Of course, if the person does not comply with the terms of supervised release, he or she may be found in violation and returned to prison for the balance of the period of supervision.”
House Bill 446 will now go the Senate for further consideration.
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard