Benninghoff Bill to Prohibit ARD for Sex Offenders Gains Unanimous Support in the House
HARRISBURG – Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) announced today that his legislation to prohibit those charged with sex offenses against children from being placed into the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, or ARD as it is more commonly known, once again passed the House of Representatives with unanimous, bipartisan support.
The ARD program is designed to give a first time offender a “second chance” by avoiding the consequences of being convicted of a crime. Under the ARD program, if a defendant successfully completes a period of supervision and follows the requirements imposed by the court, the case is dismissed.
“Most parents would assume that Pennsylvania law requires known child predators to be prosecuted swiftly, taken off the street and kept from doing any further harm,” Benninghoff said. “However, current law allows predators charged with the sexual assault of a child to avoid conviction and trade jail for probation with the consent of a prosecutor, regardless of the evidence.”
Though many Pennsylvania prosecutors sensibly reserve ARD for those whom they believe are truly deserving, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure currently gives them the discretion to recommend any defendant, regardless of his or her crime.
“While the program serves a valuable rehabilitative purpose for other offenses, someone charged with the rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or aggravated indecent assault of a child should never be offered ARD,” Benninghoff said. “My bill would make the law clear; criminals who choose to sexually assault children will never avoid prosecution.”
Benninghoff’s legislation, then House Bill 623, first gained unanimous support in the House of Representatives on Oct. 7, 2015, but was never taken up for consideration by the Senate. Still committed to the cause, Benninghoff reintroduced the legislation, now House Bill 594
, at the beginning of this new legislative session in January. The bill has once again been sent to the Senate for consideration.
“We must do everything we can to keep predators off the street and away from our precious and vulnerable children,” Benninghoff said. “Their protection is too important to be left to chance.”
Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner