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Megan's Law began because a seven year old girl, Megan Kanka, was brutally raped and murdered by a neighbor who lived just across the street from Megan and her family. Her family didn't know the criminal background of her murderer, and if they had suspected it, they couldn't have accessed a national sex offenders registry. That's because the registry was established until later.
The law, commonly known as Megan's Law, requres all sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agency. The public can access a list of registered sex offenders, including their names, addresses, and the nature of their offense. This list can be accessed online or requested from a local law enforcement agency.
Megan's Law was created after a seven-year old New Jersey girl named Megan Kanka was raped and killed by a child molester, who had moved across the street from Megan's house. The family did not know about his criminal history.
Megan's family pushed for this law, which is now active in all of the United States. The law typically provides sex offender lists and notification of where sex offenders live. The law also seeks to notify citizens of any sex offenders in the area.
There are several misconceptions which surround the victims of Megan's Law offenders. These include the following:
* Victims of sexual assault are only harmed when offenders use force. This isn't true! Even if there isn't physical harm, there will be emotional and psychological scars.
* If a child doesn't tell about the offense, then it can be assumed that he or she consented. This isn't true! The child may be afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed.
* Some people perceive that the victims should share in the blame in certain circumstances. This isn't ever true! Victims are never to blame, whether they are adults or children!
* If a victim doesn't say the word "no" or try to resist the assault, then this isn't a crime that falls under Megan's Law. This is absolutely not true! The victim may be too afraid!
There are several compelling reasons for community notification under Megan's Law. States are given discretion in establishing the criteria of disclosure of Megan's Law. However, they must make the private and personal information of registered sex offenders available to the public, except for those offenders who meet the exclusion rules.
The reasons for community notification include the following:
* Makes public to citizens information on Megan's Law offenders in order to protect potential victims.
* Allows the community to assist law agencies in investigations of sex offender crimes.
* Is a deterrent to sex offenders from committing new sex offenses.
There are several different ways to access specific information concerning Megan's Law lists and offenders. These include the following:
* Search for your state's Megan's Law sex offender registry on the Internet.
* Contact or visit your area's local law agency for an up-to-date Megan's Law list of sex offenders in your area.
* Call the Megan's Law Helpline at (888) ASK-PFML or (631) 689-2672
Your local enforcement agency should notify you and/or your school about Megan's Law offenders in the area.
Why are sex offender registrations under Megan's Law necessary? Consider the following facts.
* It is a primary governmental goal to protect the public from sex offenders.
* Sex offenders are hard to rehabilitate, and they have a risk of re-offending after they've been released from prison.
* Public safety is much more important than privacy issues surrounding those who fall under Megan's Law lists.
* It is important to protect the public by releasing information about sex offenders.
According to the State of California's Office of the Attorney General, Megan's Law allows the public to view certain information concerning the whereabouts of sex offenders.
The law was named after a seven-year old New Jersey girl named Megan Kanka. Megan was raped and killed by a child molester, who had moved across the street from Megan's house. The family did not know of his sexual offending history.
Megan's family pushed for Megan's Law, and now all states have some form of the law, providing Megan's Law lists and notification of where sex offenders live.
While the law seeks to notify citizens of sex offenders in the area, it strictly prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against the offender.
The California Department of Justice maintains a database with a list of registered Megan's law offenders. Sex offenders are required to register with their local law office, and they must update their information on a yearly basis, within five working days of their birthday. However, some sex offenders are required to update every 30 to 90 days, depending on their circumstances.
If sex offenders do not up-date their registration as required, they are shown on the Website as being in violation. If they move or become homeless, they must contact their local agency within five days to update their registration, also.
Not all sex offenders are listed under Megan's Law lists. In fact, approximately 25% of registered sex offenders are excluded from public disclosure. This is based on the type of crime committed, however.
The Megan's Law sex offender tracking program determines who can receive an exclusion. Offenders can apply for exclusion, but only if their crime falls under one of the following categories.
* Misdemeanor Child Molestation- This falls under Penal Cod 647.6
* Sexual Battery by Restraint-This falls under Penal Cod 243.4
* An offence which didn't involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling of the offender, and for which the offender has successfully finished or is finishing probation.
Although these Megan's law offenders are not listed on an Internet registry, they must still register as a sex offender and continue to update their registration.
Because people aren't always notified about Megan's Law offenders, or they may not access Megan's Law lists that are available on the Internet and in local law agencies, adults should know how to spot sex offenders. Pay attention to the following warning signs.
* A person who seeks a special one-on-one relationship with a child.
* A person who wants to spend an excessive amount of alone time with children who don't belong to them.
* An adult in a role of supervision, such as a teacher, coach, sponsor, etc. who appears to develp an intense relationship with a child.
* Individuals who want to continuously take photographs of other children, not their own.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|