Sex Offender Registration of Children (SORNA)

Approximately 200,000 people in 41 states are currently on the sex offender registry for crimes they committed as children. Some were put on the registry when they were as young as eight years old. The label of “sex offender” will last forever, regardless of when a child was placed on the registry. Young people deserve second chances and the opportunity to be rehabilitated; registration forestalls that.

Young people who commit sexual offenses should be held accountable for their actions, but registries punish young people for years and even decades after they have been through the justice system. We all want accountability that is fair, but registries harm young people without increasing public safety.

Registries are also expensive and ineffective. Putting youth on registries clogs databases and exhausts public safety resources by flooding them with low-risk individuals. Administering registries costs the public over $3 billion a year.

Juvenile Law Center works to abolish juvenile sex offender registries nationwide. We provide litigation support to attorneys across the country who are challenging state and federal juvenile registration, and provide professional training, technical assistance, and public education on this important issue.

Labeled for Life

Labeling kids as sex offenders does not increase public safety because the recidivism rates for youth are below 3%. The stigma of this label and the severe restrictions registries place on youth make communities less safe by pushing youth out of schools, separating families, pushing kids into homelessness, making youth targets for vigilante violence, and increasing the risk of suicide.

Being labeled for life cuts youth off from society and unfairly pushes them into the margins.

Abolish Juvenile Registries

We use a variety of strategies, including impact litigation, appellate advocacy, and collaboration with attorneys and other stakeholders, to eliminate sex offender registries for youth at the state and federal level.

In 2014, we successfully challenged Pennsylvania’s sex offender registration (SORNA) requirements for youth, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court deemed mandatory lifetime registration unconstitutional for young people.

2020 Convening for Policy Advocates

Registration can last a child’s lifetime and cause significant barriers to education, employment, social relationships, and well-being. Legislative advocacy is needed—in coordination with litigation—to end youth registration completely. Join us May 18-19, 2020 for a two-day convening for policy advocates.