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Pennsylvania has been not been fully compliant with the federal law since its passage. The immediate penalty for being non-compliant has been a reduction of Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding allocated to state and local criminal justice entities for the provision of essential criminal justice services including but not limited to:
  • Pre-trial diversion projects that reduce unnecessary prison admissions of appropriate, non-violent offenders, resulting in reduced taxpayer savings;
  • Problem-solving courts such as Drug, DUI, Mental Health and Veteran’s Courts that provide judicial and team-based supervision of offenders who work to overcome their behavioral health issues and greatly reduce the likelihood of recidivism;
  • Intensive supervision and effective management of offenders on probation or parole; and,
  • Re-entry programming for offenders to provide education, treatment, counseling, housing and evidence-based programming to address chronic criminal involvement issues.
However, the greatest ill-effect suffered by Pennsylvania’s non-compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act is that it renders the state registration system less strict than many other states, including some of our immediate neighbors, who have come into compliance with the federal requirements or working to become compliant. This means that those states have a greater opportunity to effectively identify and manage this group of offenders and provide people with information to help keep their children and communities safe.
As long as Pennsylvania registration and notification system is less strict than the federal mandate, we run the risk of becoming a safe haven for these offenders who are savvy to the new laws and work to avoid detection and management so that they may continue to prey upon potential victims. Bringing Pennsylvania into compliance with the Federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act means that Pennsylvania will be as tough as our neighboring states, if not tougher, about the registration and management of this group of offenders. It means that Pennsylvania will become a part of a larger federal database of offenders, which is particularly important as offenders move from one state to another. Ultimately, it enhances the overall safety of our children and our communities.
Impact of SORNA on Pennsylvania
  • The law required that all states implement SORNA requirements within 3 years, or by July 27, 2009;
  • A reduction of 10 % of Bryne Justice Assistance Grant (“JAG”)funds was authorized for any state that fails to substantially implement SORNA;
  • JAG annual appropriations to Pennsylvania is $million which led to a reduction in funding of $ annually;
  • Some people have been concerned that non-compliance with strict federal registration requirements would result on Pennsylvania becoming a “safe haven” for sex offenders.

**Content Last Updated 5/14/2012**

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