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Megan's Law

Megan's Law has been enacted in all 50 states. Megan's Law has been designed so that child sex offenders register in their state and police make this information available to the public. One of the key features of Megan's Law is the acknowledgement of the high rate of offenders who repeat their crimes after they are released from custody. Because of public outcry, the judicial system has upheld most parts of Megan's Law saying that the privacy interests of convicted child felons are not as important as the government's broader interest in public safety.


Megan Nicole Kanka

Megan's Law was signed into legislation by President Bill Clinton, on May 17, 1996, after the brutal rape and murder of Megan Kank. Previously, in 1990, Washington State enacted the Community Protection Act, which included America's first law authorizing public notification when dangerous sex offenders are released into the community.

In 1994, in a New Jersey suburb of Hamilton Township, 7-year-old Megan Nicole Kanka was raped and killed by a previously twice-convicted child molester who lived right across the street from the Kanka residence. At this time, the laws did not allow the police to release sex offender information to the community. Later in 1994, the Jacob Wetterling Act required the States to register individuals convicted of sex crimes against children

In 1996, the law was changed and signed into action by Clinton. On September 25, 1996, the California State Legislature implemented Megan's Law to allow potential victims and their parents and guardians to protect themselves from such convicted offenders. This was not totally new to California as they have had laws since 1947 requiring sex offenders to register with the state.

Megan's Law has allowed states to enact community notification standards. These standards help law enforcement in investigations by establishing legal grounds in order to hold known sex offenders, deter offenders from repeating offenses and allows communities information and means to protect their children from victimization. The laws are not meant to punish the offender and it is illegal to use this information to harass or commit and other crimes against the offender. The laws are for public protection services only.

The community standards enacted by prosecutors usually classify child sex offenders into three levels or tiers based on the degree of risk they pose to the public: high (Tier 3), moderate (Tier 2) or low (Tier 1). Neighbors are notified of high-risk offenders. Registered community organizations involved with children or with victims of sexual abuse, schools, day care centers and summer camps are notified of moderate and high-risk offenders because of the possibility that pedophiles and sexual predators will be drawn to these places. For low-risk sex offenders, usually only the law enforcement agencies are notified.

In order to find out more information about Megan's Law in your particular state, see our Resources page for other sites that carry this information.

In order to download a PDF file of the New Jersey Attorney General's Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration, click here

In order to read the full text of Megan's Law, check out Megan's Law Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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