Hearing: House Judiciary Committee | Hearing on HB 77: Megan's Law residence restrictions
September 12, 2023 | 1:00 p.m.
Veronica Miller, Senior Policy Counsel for Criminal Legal Reform, testified on behalf of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
To watch the hearing or read testimonies of all participants, click here.
Bill summary: House Bill 77 would prohibit an individual classified as a sexually violent predator (SVP) from residing within 2,500 feet of a public school, private school, parochial school or daycare center for the duration of their required registration period. For anyone classified as an SVP, this would be a lifetime prohibition. Additionally, the legislation would require any SVP currently living within the prohibited zone to move from the residence within six months of enactment.
The ACLU-PA opposes HB 77 for the following reasons:
- HB 77 would likely violate registrants’ due process rights, while bearing no rational relationship to a legitimate purpose. There is no research to support the effectiveness of residence restrictions or evidence to show that recidivism rates are impacted by a registrant’s proximity to places where children congregate.
- HB 77 would violate the prohibition against ex post facto laws. HB 77 seeks to retroactively punish people who have already completed their sentences and who have already been released back into their communities. As PA has already recognized, these banishment zones would push individuals into more rural and/or more inaccessible areas, where the opportunities to find housing, employment and treatment are small, if nonexistent.
- HB 77 is a solution in search of a problem. Current law already imposes numerous requirements and restrictions for people classified as SVPs. Not only is HB 77 unnecessary, its “solution” is broadly applied, ineffective, and likely counterproductive, making communities less safe by forcing more people to the margins of society, if not into outright homelessness.
Read our full testimony below.