Megan’s Law: Protection or Invasion of Privacy
The controversy over Megan’s Law has always been about the invasion of privacy of past sex offenders who must register with local authorities who make the information available to the public. There are different mediums of which the information is disclosed, the internet being a hot topic of the on-going argument. Megan’s Law was placed with the intentions of protecting communities from convicted sex offenders committing more crimes.
In 1994, seven year old Megan Kanka of New Jersey was sexually assaulted and murdered by her neighbor who had previously been a convicted sex offender. Her parents had been unaware of his past crimes. The brutality of this crime helped provide the case of mandating registration of past convicted offenders (jrank.org). During former President Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1996, he had signed legislation that required states to adopt the statutes of Megan’s Law (EPIC).
This allowed states to use discretion in establishing which information is disclosed, and compels them to make information that is both private and personal available to the public. This information is said to assist law enforcement in investigations, establish legal grounds to hold known offenders, discourage sex offenders from committing new offenses, and offers information to use to protect children from victimization (www.about-megans-law.com).
Opposition however fights that though the intent of Megan’s Law is to protect the community, some states have published offender information where anyone can access. This access can lead to “witch hunts” by parents, students, etc. showing how the law has backfired (Repeal Adam Walsh Act Laws!).
The basis of the law was meant for communities to be able to better protect their children if informed of their whereabouts of high-risk offenders. The leased information enables law enforcement to obtain legal grounds for detaining past offenders. This law was quickly fired at by opponents speaking out that the laws would only lead to vigilantism or ‘witch hunts’ and prevents the person’s chance at merging back into society. If the offender, the offender’s family, or employer, however, was vandalized, threatened in anyway, or physically abused would lead to arrest and prosecution for criminal actions (law.jrank.org).
The laws have gone under many adoptions and differ to the way states have adopted but are forced to register if they have been charged with the conviction of sexual assault, endangerment of impairing or debauching a child’s morals, kidnapping, criminal restraint, and false imprisonment. The determination of the risk of re-offense are listed guidelines in Megan’s Law which include; post-incarceration supervision., status of counseling or therapy, criminal background, degree of remorse, substance abuse, psychiatric profile, history of stalking where children congregate. The registries upon which the offenders must register include their names,...