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Helm’s Bill Would Revamp State’s Megan’s Law Website

As a result of a critical report issued by Auditor General Jack Wagner regarding Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law website, Rep. Sue Helm (R-Susquehanna Township) is drafting legislation that would require the state police to make changes to the website as recommended by the auditor general. 

“Megan’s Law and its accompanying website are to assist parents in protecting their children from sex offenders,” Helm said.  “Without a reliable public resource, families are unable to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their children.” 

Megan’s Law, which was enacted in 1995, is named for Megan Kanka, who was brutally raped and murdered in 1994.  The perpetrator was a twice-convicted sex offender who moved across the street from her family’s home in New Jersey.  Her family had no knowledge of his past offenses.  Under the law, the state police are required to maintain a public registry of convicted sex offenders.  As of June 16, the registry lists more than 10,000 offenders throughout the Commonwealth. 

The auditor general conducted a special performance audit of the website in 2006, which faulted the website for failing to provide the public basic information such as up-to-date photographs and street addresses of registered sex offenders.  The special report issued on June 22 was a follow up of the 2006 audit to see how the website improved; it received an overall grade of a C minus. 

“I believe this report indicates a lack of attention to the importance of this website and the benefit it provides to the public,” Helm said.  “My legislation would mandate that changes be made to the Megan’s Law website in a timely fashion.” 

As highlighted in the auditor general’s special report, Helm’s proposal would require: 

  • All photographs to be consistent and adequate so sex offenders are recognized in clearly dated photos, including profile views, by the public.
  • The listing of all sexual offenses and definitions for which the offender was convicted for the public to identify non-compliant registrants and view their profiles.
  • Variances in spelling and punctuation of the name, address and county in the website’s search feature.
  • A mapping tool to permit the public to see all offenders in a specified area.
  • Procedures for the state police to identify and correct website data entry errors.
  • An e-mail notification system to provide public notices when an offender moves into a designated area or changes an address. 

“Children are our most precious resource and we need to take the necessary actions to ensure their safety and security from those who prey upon them,” Helm said.  “I am hopeful that this bill will be swiftly moved through the legislative process to ensure these enhancements are incorporated into the Megan’s Law website.” 

Rep. Susan C. Helm
104th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(717) 651-0100
(717) 787-1230
Contact:  Tim Eller
(717) 260-6242
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