The United States of America has always supported freedom and privacy for its citizens. More importantly, the United States values the safety of its citizens at a much higher level. Every year more laws are implemented in an attempt to deter general or specific criminal behaviors or prevent recidivism among those who have already committed crimes. One of the most heinous crimes that still occurs very often in the United States is sex offenses against children. Currently, there are over 700,000 registered sex offenders and 265,000 sex offenders who are under correctional supervision. It is estimated that approximately 3% of the offenders who are currently incarcerated will likely commit another sex-related crime upon release (Park & Lee, 2013, p. 26). There are several laws that have been in place regarding sex offenses for decades, including Megan’s Law which was enacted in 1996.
The federal Megan’s Law established three specific conditions. The first condition required information from state sex offender registries to be distributed publicly so that all community citizens have access to it. The second condition required any information collected by registration programs within the states to be released for any reason given that it is allowed under the state law. Finally, the third condition required local and state law enforcement agencies to release all applicable information from state registration programs needed for the protection of the public (Corrigan, 2006, p. 271).
While Megan’s Law has given community citizens the ability be informed of sex offenders in their areas and their demographic information, one must also consider the impact Megan’s law has on these offenders when they attempt to reenter society after incarceration. Understanding the effectiveness of Megan’s Law and how it has affected the success of convicted sex offenders in their rehabilitation process will determine whether or not it is necessary to continue the implementation of the law or to refocus efforts and resources on an alternate form of deterrence.
Before discussing Megan’s Law and its impact on offenders when they reenter society, researchers must first understand public perceptions of convicted sex offenders. A study published in 2007 examined the perceptions of community citizens about sex offenders and the protection policies that are put in place. The study took place in Florida and the information was attained from 193 sampled residents. The purpose of the study to discover how accurate public perception of sex offenders is versus the actual threat they pose and to measure how effective community citizens believe protection practices are (Levenson, Brannon, Fortney, & Baker, 2007, p. 7). The results of the study determined that there are several misapprehensions among the public regarding sex offenders and that in general, the public has strongly supports policies of community protections.
Most of the...