Megan’s Law Reyna Mercado Monroe College Professor Jimenez Child Abuse Megan’s Law
This law was created to protect one of the most vulnerable members of society which is our children. Megan’s Law requires states to register convicted sex offenders in a national crime database, and the information obtained is stored in a statewide data system. The offenders’ information must be available to the general public by law enforcement agencies. Megan's Law is an act that authorizes the distribution of registered sex offenders’ personal information to the public statewide. The law required state law enforcement agencies to collect child molesters’ information in a sex crime national registry. The sex crime national registry is a useful tool to search for convicted sexual felons identities, locations and personal information. This statute was designed to notify states and local residents, if child molesters lived, moved or worked in their neighborhoods. ("Megan's Law, Registered sex," 2003-2004)
Other legal acts preceded the creation of Megan’s Law. The Washington State's 1990 Community Protection Act, which was the first state law in the United States that mandated the creation of a public notification system, organized to inform communities when sex offenders would be released to their localities. ("Megan's Law, Registered sex," 2003-2004) ) The federal version of this law was signed by President Bill Clinton on May 17, 1996 in memory of Megan Kanka. Megan Nicole Kanka was seven years old when she was violently raped and murdered by a previously convicted sex offender. The offender was recently released and lived close to her house with other sexual predators. This tragedy occurred in 1994. ("Megan's Law, Registered sex," 2003-2004) Megan’s murder created uproar in Township, New Jersey where Megan resided at the time of her murder. They voiced their concerns about the lack of information of sex offenders moving to their neighborhoods. Residents argued that the absence of a national notification system was the main caused to the death of Megan. (Megan's Law, Registered sex," 2003-2004) The general public demanded more safety in their neighborhoods, and asked law enforcement agencies to disclose sex offenders’ information .Megan’s law provide states the right to establish their own criteria for reporting sex offenders, but this statute also demand states to comply with the provision of information from offenders. States must distribute personal and private information from offenders, and make it available to their citizens. Megan’s Law is a system of communal notification that is focused to safeguard the well-being and safety of our children.
On the negative side Megan’s law is a form of general and specific deterrence as well, but contributes to self-labeling. Sex Offenders can associate with other equally labeled as sexual predators. They look for support and understanding; this might lead to more victims and criminal behaviors. Self—Labeling Theory stated that the effect of the crime on the public, its severity, and relevance makes the offenders more prone to engage in criminal behaviors. (Siegel,2008).
The public distribution of sex offenders’ personal information is a form of stigmatization characterized by the application of a negative label. This negative label produce devastating consequences on the individual labeled, and generate long-term and hurtful effects on the offenders’ life, self-esteem, and interrelation with others. (Siegel,2008).
Megan’s law is implemented by propagating offenders’ information at a national level. Inadvertently, this method increased the negative and socially construed label sex offenders get by the commission of their criminal actions. Megan’s Law creates more social alienation to offenders than the result of their own