A Pennsylvania judge ruled unconstitutional a two-year-old Pennsylvania law that imposes lifetime registration requirements on juvenile sex offenders, reports the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Judge John Uhler found that the registration mandate “unconstitutionally forecloses a court’s considerations of the many unique attributes of youth and juvenile offenders” under age 18 and improperly treats them the same as adult sex offenders.
SORNA, as the law is known, also doesn’t take into account the greater capacity juvenile offenders have to reform, he noted. The state law was passed in 2011 to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act. The state faced a loss of federal funding if it didn’t adopt a measure compatible with the Walsh Act. Uhler ruled in a challenge on behalf of seven York County youths by the county public defender, the Juvenile Law Center and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Riya Saha Shah of the Juvenile Law Center, calling the decision a “landmark ruling,” said, “To impose this (registration) punishment on children is to set them up for failure.”