The purpose of House Bill 166 is to prohibit the eligibility of violator's of sexual offender registration from receiving public assistance. Failure to register (FTR) has been an issue existing over time, and this bill seeks to increase the number of offenders that do register. Public assistance should certainly be available to the sexual offender population, and HB166 ideally seeks to improve the conditions in the offender's life by ensuring aid. Simply by registering, offenders will have made the choice to follow a law and receive benefits that will ultimately, positively impact their lives through providing basic needs that are difficult to achieve independently. Bill 166 does not require an extensive amount of extra work, as offenders are already required by Megan's law to register. The proposed bill simply uses public assistance as an incentive to ensure offenders comply with an already existing law.
This bill should be passed, with one issue to note. Due to stringent limitations on where sexual offenders can live, it can be difficult for them to find a permanent place to call home. Many states have restrictions, often set in distances, which prevent offenders from residing near schools, day care centers, or playgrounds. These restrictions, combined with the restrictions set forth by the individual's state parole and probation officers, present a unique challenge. Offender's must follow the Megan's Law requirements and get their potential residence approved by their parole or probation agent. Despite these difficulties, sexual offenders are still required by law to register and HB166 will hold them accountable to do this, if they want to receive aid.
Pennsylvania House Bill 166 would be beneficial for all members of society. Not only would it encourage registered sex offenders in Pennsylvania to remain compliant with Megan's Law registration, it would also open up public assistance to other non-offending citizens if non-compliance occurred. This bill is relatively easy to implement and does not stigmatize offenders in a negative way.