Megan’s Law

Megan’s Law refers to the Sexual Offender Act of 1994 law in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders in their area.  Published sex offender information typically includes the offenders name, their recent pictures, their current address, and details about the crime that they committed.  Offenders are required to notify local law enforcement of any change in address or employment so that their public disclosure may be updated.  Typically offenders must be listed for ten years (in some states, the listing is permanent unless the offender makes an appeal through the legal system to have the information un-posted).

Megan’s law serves two major purposes.  Firstly, it addresses the requirement that sex offenders register with their local authorities.  Secondly, it provides community notification.  The law was sponsored by Paul Kramer in 1994 and was named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was raped and murdered in Hamilton Township, New Jersy by Jesse Timmendequas, a repeat sex offender who lived across the street from Kanka together with two other convicted sex offenders.  Paul Kramer explained that Megan Kanka would be alive today if the bills proposed had been law.

Critics argue that the law is not as effective as authorities wished it to be.  The often noted reason is that most child sex abuse cases involved intrafamial molestations by members of the child’s household.  Notwithstanding the children’s lives that it has already saved to date, authorities fear that the laws growing costs may not be justifiable.

Reviewed: 5/11/11

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