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State Supreme Court Strikes Down Local Laws for Sex Offenders

Lemoyne Borough to repeal its sex offender law in wake of state Supreme Court ruling

Published: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 4:11 PM Updated: Friday, July 01, 2011, 8:58 AM


Reviewed by Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

Lemoyne Borough Council plans to repeal its law restricting where sexual offenders can live following a state supreme court ruling that such laws are unenforceable.

In a May 25 court ruling invalidating a similar law in Allegheny County, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said such laws isolate former offenders in what would amount to "localized penal colonies" distant from families and old neighborhoods. That would go against the state's goal of rehabilitation, he wrote.

InFROSS, et al v. COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, (Decided May 25, 2011), the Pa Supreme Court held that a local law that imposes residency restrictions on certain sex offenders was preempted by state law. The Court looked further into the law and determined that effectively consigning sex offenders to one isolated area "stood as an obstacle to the execution of the full purposes and objectives of state Prisons and Parole Code and state Sentencing Code, and thus was preempted."

There are a number of municipalities that still have similar laws on their books. They are not enforceable and anyone cited for such a violation should contact an attorney immediately. Even if not cited, the laws should be voluntarily removed from the books by the municipality, as Lemoyne is doing.