Pennsylvania Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (PARSOL)
MISSION: PARSOL advocates for public safety measures that work for all Pennsylvanians: policy based on prevention, laws that respect our Constitution, and the dignity of all people.
PARSOL is a grassroots, all volunteer, non-profit organization committed to educating the public, our state legislators, attorneys, and judges about the ineffectiveness of Pennsylvania’s public registry system. We seek to promote policy that has been demonstrated through robust empirical evidence to be effective in promoting public safety and that is grounded in both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions.
Studies show that public registration policies are failing in their stated goal of keeping people safe from sexual victimization. Public registries create a false sense of security that something is being done about the threat of sexual harm, but the evidence does not support this belief. Rates of sexual crimes have not decreased as registries have ballooned, and the isolation and stigmatization of those on the registry may actually increase their likelihood of reoffending. Further, this isolation and stigmatization negatively impaces families, including children, of those on the public registry.
It is the position of both PARSOL and the Supreme Court of PA that public registries are punitive in nature. They bear close resemblance to historical shaming practices and thereby violate the United States constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Importantly, Pennsylvania’s public registry also infringes upon the Right to Reputation as guaranteed in the Pennsylvania Constitution.
It is further the position of PARSOL that the laws passed by our state legislature have largely been aimed at punishing and isolating the individuals who have served their sentences and are trying to reintegrate into society. The problem with this approach is that these measures are reactive. The public health crisis of sexual abuse needs to have proactive answers that will help prevent harm from ever occurring in the first place.
The limited resources of the Commonwealth should be redirected away from the maintenance of ineffective policies such as public registration. Our efforts must instead focus on collaborative public health prevention measures that address individual, interpersonal, and environmental factors which impact the prevalence of sexual abuse.
By supporting measures that have been demonstrated to prevent sexual harm, leaders in our community will exhibit that they are informed by facts, fiscally responsible, and prioritize public safety. When we can find this balance and enact rational sexual offense laws, we will achieve our common goal: A PA safe and just for all.
Please note that PARSOL does not condone any form of non-consensual sex. People who commit sexual crimes should be prosecuted, and that procedure should be Constitutional, fair, and consistent with the legitimate best interests of all Pennsylvanians. Once an individual has completed his or her criminal sentence, his or her debt to society should be considered as paid and no law, whether criminal or civil in nature, should prolong or add to that sentence.