Sex offender oversight increases
Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies are stepping up supervision of sex offenders to include changes in the state's Megan's Law registration system.
Pittsburgh police Detective Michael Veith on Thursday obtained arrest warrants for six people accused of failing to register their addresses as part of registration requirements, and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole began a pilot program this month to monitor sex offenders' searches on the Internet.
Changes in the law, which took effect in December, involve collecting more information on offenders and requiring those convicted of the most serious crimes or repeat offenders to register addresses, job status and other information with the state more frequently.
“We're staying on this,” Veith said.
The changes mean 60 percent of the 500 convicted sex offenders living in Pittsburgh must register their addresses four times a year for the rest of their lives because they're classified as Tier III sex offenders — those a judge deems the most violent and dangerous. They had until the end of March to comply.
In Allegheny County, 758 of the 1,126 registered sex offenders are Tier III, said Alan Pelton, manager of the Allegheny County Adult Probation Department.
“They made us aware of who to really concentrate on,” Veith said of the requirements. “I was shocked. I didn't realize there was that many Tier IIIs.”
Lt. Todd Harman of the state police Megan's Law unit said the crackdown on reporting requirements likely will lead to scofflaws.
“There will be more people falling out of compliance because they have to do it more often,” Harman said. “We've been working with the U.S. Marshals and local police to ramp up compliance checks on these individuals.”
Veith said he does at least 500 compliance checks a year and Pittsburgh detectives will continue to check the registration of sex offenders more frequently than the law stipulates.
“It's not a requirement, but it's what we choose to do. It's for the safety of the public to make sure these individuals are registering at the correct address,” Veith said.
The Pittsburgh office of the Probation and Parole Board identified 15 sex offenders whose computers will be monitored using Securus Software, Director Larry Ludwig said.
“They have key words and phrases they recognize,” Ludwig said of the software. “Any time an offender would do a search with those key words or phrases, the database would capture the screen shot and we would get a snap shot of what they're searching.”
Offenders are not allowed to access or view pornography, Ludwig said.
“Prior to this, the agent would have to research the offender's history, and there's a lot of people more IT capable than we may be and can hide some of that,” Ludwig said. “This is a lot more user-friendly.”
Members of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies share information to enforce compliance among sex offenders with Megan's Law registration.
Megan's Law is named for a New Jersey girl, Megan Kanka, 7, who was molested and killed in 1994 by a neighbor who had been convicted of sex crimes against children. It requires convicted sex offenders to register with state police, who post the information on a public website.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shooting of Pittsburgh cab driver spotlights risks of profession
- Group urges Port Authority of Allegheny County to fund more transit routes
- Renovation planned for blighted homes in Garfield
- Forbes Road Career and Technology Center students restore vehicle that will be donated
- Newsmaker: David A. Harris
- Pittsburgh police deliver 2,500 Thanksgiving meals through program
- Pittsburgh nonprofit 412 Food Rescue takes surplus food to needy
- Alpine touring skiing movement faces uphill climb in Western Pa.
- Police investigating after cab driver shot in Hazelwood
- Carrick crime ‘blitz’ shows early signs of success
- Security policies limit ‘insider threat’ at airports, TSA says