A man we will call “Tony” first sat down with ABC27 News in November to talk about what it’s like being a registered sex offender.
“There were many times I tried to commit suicide,” Tony said. “I am not a monster like people portray.”
The former combat medic and EMT says being on the registry for his child pornography conviction only prevents him, and others like him, from moving on with life and becoming productive citizens.
“When I first got on [the list], I was a mess,” he said. “I was homeless for about a year and a half because I was still paying child support and I lost my job. It is more of a vigilante law.”
“He would not be on any list if he did not commit the crime,” Dauphin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack said.
McCormack has been in charge of the Child Abuse Unit in the district attorney’s office since 1995.
“I think Megan’s Law is a good thing. It is very important for parents and the community to know who is living in your area,” he said.
“I would argue that they don’t have the right to know that,” said Theresa Robertson.
Robertson is a volunteer with the National Association for Rationale Sex Offense Laws, or NARSOL, which is against the current public sex offender registry.
“What we have done is created this list of people who are considered monsters,” she said.
The Pennsylvania Prison Society in 2017 released a report opposing a public registry, citing the recidivism rate for sexual offenders is extremely low and a public registry prevents offenders from getting jobs and homes and can lead to harassment.
“These people are suffering too and they need help,” Robertson said.
NARSOL and Tony agree with having a law enforcement-only registry for violent sexual predators. In Pennsylvania, there are currently 19,564 registered sex offenders. Eleven percent are deemed sexually violent.
Prosecutors like McCormack still believe the public has a right to know.
“You’ll have sex offenders make the argument that this is being done to them. This is not being done to them,” McCormack said. “This is something that they made the decision when they committed their crime and these are the consequences.”
A new Pennsylvania law, Act 10 of 2018, allows certain sex offenders to petition the courts for exemption from registration requirements after 25 years.