Megan's Law

From Academic Kids

Megan's Law is the colloquial term used to denote a number of state laws in the United States that require law enforcement authorities to identify certain types of criminals, most commonly those convicted of sexual assaults against children (see pedophilia) to the public at large through various media, including in some cases the Internet.

The characteristic feature of the laws requires those subject to it to notify the local police department of any change of address after being released from prison; this requirement may be imposed permanently upon the offender, or for a fixed period of time (usually at least ten years) depending on the individual state, and sometimes on the nature or gravity of the specific offense. Many states that have such a law require persons convicted of any sexual assault, whether the victim was a child or not, to notify the authorities of their whereabouts; and at least one state — Kansas — extended the requirement to persons convicted of consensual sodomy, which was illegal in that and some other U.S. states before the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws prohibiting consensual sodomy unconstitutional in June of 2003.

The first Megan's Law was passed in New Jersey in 1994 after the rape and murder of Megan Nicole Kanka by a convicted sex offender who was living across the street from her. The Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation suggests that "Every parent should have the right to know if a dangerous sexual predator moves into their neighborhood."

On May 17, 1996, President Clinton signed a federal version of Megan's Law as an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children's Act. It required every state to develop some procedure for notifying concerned people when a person convicted of certain crimes is released near their homes. Different states have different procedures for making the required disclosures.

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