Greetings to our supporters around the Commonwealth. I hope that the winter has treated you well and that you are enjoying the passing of the seasons.
It has been six months since we last sent a Newsletter. During that time, we at PARSOL have seen encouraging expansion and have continued to do our best to advance our Mission: A PA Safe and Just for All.
On to the news:
New Online Resources
PARSOL website expanded, YouTube channel launched, Connections Social Network available.
Legal, Legislative Trackers organize cases & bills of interest. Social network for those affected by Registry launches.
Content has been added to parsol.org including new videos and podcasts on our Media section. Have audio/video that you’d like to see listed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our Legal Team has created a handy resource that collects all PA Court Cases concerning sexual offense challenges. This spreadsheet can be found on our website at https://parsol.org/legal-cases.
A separate spreadsheet lists all proposed House and Senate Bills that affect sexual offenses and Constitutional Amendments. https://parsol.org/legislative-running-list
Finally, our Share Your Story section has been updated. If you have a loved one who has been negatively impacted by PA’s registry, please visit our site and share your story. Your testimony will help us educate people of the collateral consequences of SORNA.
PARSOL now has a YouTube channel. Be sure to Subscribe and share our first video which features our Legislative Director arguing for prevention over prosecution.
In Social Media news, NARSOL advocates have launched Connections, a social network designed for those who have been affected by sexual offense registries. Join the conversation at https://connections.narsol.org.
As always, those without internet access can contact PARSOL at 717 820 2237 or PO Box 399, New Freedom, PA 17349. We will do our best to get back to you.
Recent Court Decisions
Torsilieri PA Constitutional Challenge moves ahead; Fed Appeals Court rules PA residents must register.
All eyes are on the Evidentiary Hearing where the Commonwealth must prove that all persons who have offended sexually pose a high risk of re-offending.
The best chance at bringing fundamental change to PA’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), made law in Act 29 of 2018, rests with Commonwealth v. Torsilieri.
The registrant’s lawyer, Aaron Marcus of the Philadelphia Defender’s Association, argued before the PA Supreme Court in 2019 that Act 29’s assumption that all people on the sex offender registry are at high-risk of offending violates the irrebutable presumption principle. Further, he argued that being listed on a publicly accessible registry violates his client’s Right to Reputation under the Constitution of Pennsylvania. The defendant, Torsilieri, was not found to not be a sexually violent predator (SVP); therefore, his position is that he should not be on a public assessable registry.
Instead of ruling on this case, the Supreme Court decided to send it back to the Court of Common Pleas so that the Commonwealth can provide evidence of its claim that all sex offenders are a high risk to reoffend. The case will now be argued where it originated, in the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County, during an evidentiary hearing.
In January 2021, a motion by the Commonwealth to dismiss the case was denied. The evidentiary hearing is now scheduled for March 17, 2021
In other legal news, both a state and federal court found that persons have an independent federal obligation to register. The cases W.W. v. PSP (Commonwealth Court.) and Thomas v. Blocker (U.S. 3rd Cir.) ruled “A sex offender shall register . . . in each jurisdiction where the offender resides . . . .”
This is concerning news for PA residents who are forced to register because it foreshadows the possible creation of a federal database independent from the current 50 State registries.
While PARSOL does not give legal advice, you can send an email to email@example.com with questions about these and other cases working their way through the Courts.
From the Capitol:
Reactionary legislation once again proposes stiffer penalties for sexual offenses.
Re-introduced child pornography legislation passes Senate but fails to include evidence-based approaches to preventing sexual crimes.
The bill which we have been focusing most of our attention on is SB 87. This bill is a re-introduced version of Senator Arnold’s SB 1075 from last year and increases the penalties for child pornography crimes.
Those of you who have followed PARSOL may recall the controversy surrounding this bill. After incorporating an amendment that would create a Task Force focused on prevention of child sexual abuse, PA Senate Leadership stripped the idea of prevention and changed the focus to greater prosecution of these crimes.
The bill passed the Senate 47-2. It now moves on to the House where it must first pass the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Rob Kauffman will decide whether or not this bill moves forward. PARSOL is now focused on contacting his office and staff and explaining why the Prevention Task Force needs to be reintroduced.
For a full rundown of how we got here, please visit our YouTube page.
For more info on lobbying and legislation, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have legislative resources on our website parsol.org including our new Legislative Tracker spreadsheet.
Fearless Groups Continue Online
Each month, live online or telephone support is available to those affected by PA’s registry.
Join us on the second Saturday of every month from 4 – 5:30PM as PARSOL hosts a free video / telephone meeting open to all residents of PA who are affected by the public registry. This includes registrants themselves, their family members, and their friends. We aim to create a safe environment free from the influence of law enforcement or treatment providers.
To take part in this one-of-a-kind meeting of people “who get it”, you can either send an email to email@example.com or call 717 820 2237 .
Our next meeting is scheduled for March 13th, 2021 at 4PM. Tell a friend, or come to the meeting and make one!
If you or someone you know would like to support PARSOL or get involved, please see our Volunteer page at https://secure.parsol.org/volunteer. You can also give us a call at 717 820 2237 .
Be sure to follow PARSOL on social media and help us spread the word. You can find us at PARSOL on Facebook, @PARSOL7 on Twitter, and PA Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws on YouTube
PARSOL is moving closer to establishing a 501c3. We hope that this will make donations easier for those who wish to have a tax write-off.
The designs and content of our new brochures are finished and will be printed later this year. Be on the lookout for updated files on the Resources section of our website, and please do reach out to us if you’d like copies of any of the following brochures:
- Intro to PARSOL / General Info / Prevention
- n Legal Issues brochue / History or Megan’s Law & SORNA
- n Fact Card debunking myths on the registry and public safety.
- n PA SORNA Subchapter H brochure: What you need to know if your crime was committed after 12/20/2012
- n PA SORNA Subchapter I brochure: What you need to know if your crime was committed before 12/21/2012
A special farewell to those who are serving sentences in county, state, and federal prisons during the pandemic. You are not forgotten.
If you know someone who is serving a sentence, please send them a copy of this newsletter. If you are incarcerated and there is content that you would like to see in these newsletters or online, please reach out and let us know.
Best wishes in 2021,
The PARSOL Board of Directors.