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Criminal Law

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Megan’s Law and Sexual Offender Registration

Although I found both questions quite interesting, I chose to reply about the “community rights” of both the offender and community to respond to. However, because this chapter is so enlightening (for personal retention of the information), I had to also address Megan’s (and others) law. Because to my surprise they have proven to be ineffective and don’t work!
Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenders may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today (09/12/2007). Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders. The Adam Walsh Act, passed in 2006, will exacerbate the problems with state sex offender laws. It forces states to either dramatically increase the scope and duration of registration and community notification restrictions-including requiring states to register youths as young as 14-or lose some federal law enforcement grant money. Compliance with the Adam Walsh Act will preclude states from adopting more carefully calibrated and cost-effective registration and community notification policies. At least some states are debating whether the costs of complying with the law faroutweighs the benefits. Human Rights Watch urges reform of the Adam Walsh Act (US: Sex Offender Laws May Do More Harm Than Good. 2007). Concerning “Megan’s Law,” associated with the 1994 rape and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka who died just thirty yard from her own front door in Hamilton Township, New Jersey on July 29 1994, a neighbor lured the little girl to his house with the promise that she could see his puppy. The neighbor was a convicted sex offender who had served time in prison for aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault against a child, with the outcry over Megan’s death spurring the New Jersey Legislature to quick action (with the law coming into effect on May 17, 1960 (Community Notification Laws. Megan’s Law. N. d.). Concerning Megan’s laws, benefits or success rate. Research has shown these laws to be contrary to their design. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has shown that notification laws, (a prerequisite of Megan’s Laws) are actually counter-productive. This goes against what the law actually intended. The ACLU state “notification laws will not prevent sex offenders from committing crimes (Is Megan’s Laws Constitutional or Even Effective? 2009).
What are the rights of sex offenders living in the community? What should the rights be of community members so they can be protected from sex offenders?
Relative to the Week 4 video, and child-advocate Patty Wetterling, (whose son was a kidnap victim). Her statement that, “sexual offender laws are not preventative,” was a real eye-opener but supported by the content and context of this weeks subject matter that mostly advocate how ineffective Sexual Offender Registration laws are ineffective towards the reduction of crime, and onerous to the offender rehabilitation-that the laws most often, induce reoffending.

Rights of the offender are: None. After searching through the chapter, Sex Offender Laws: Some legislative Responses, and several web sources, my thoughts went back to the video and Patty Wetterling’s statement(s) of, as a registered or formerly registered sexual offender, “there is no place for success.” She stated that unlike a person who successfully lost weight or a recovering alcoholic or drug addict you can’t, (or don’t) lose the stigma of former sexual offender. She alluded that being labeled a sexual offender is a tag that you never lose. Although it strays form the question, but when most sexual offenders are released from prison-a place where society’s most reprehensive people are locked up-and even in there they are the most hated people in the prison, and the majority spend their time doing their sentences in isolation to keep from repeatedly being robbed, raped, and beaten. And what can they expect upon release? Not a welcome party. They can expect to be arrested if they don’t register as a sex offender within 30 days. They have the right to have all of their personal information shared in the county of their residence “sexual offender registry,” and most likely the internet. They can also expect to have their places of residence and employment “picketed” by demonstrators demanding the leave or move somewhere else. Finally, they have the right to have their Constitutional Tights double-jeopardized by serving a definitive prison sentence and then unspecified civil confinement. Rights of the community to be protected are: False hopes of security. Although there are a number of arguments for registration of sex offenders. These arguments include: assisting law enforcement in investigation of future sex offenses, establishing legal grounds to hold offenders, deterring sex offenders from reoffending, deterring other from initial offense, and offering information to citizens. All these arguments are justified as necessary for public safety. However these arguments fall under scrutiny because of the lack of consideration for the offender, the victim, and the secondary victims in society (Reddinton, Kreisel. 2009). Additionally, critics of sex offender registries claim that they do little to protect most victims of sexual offenses, because most victims know the perpetrator. According to the Department of Justice, about seven of every ten female rape or sexual assault victims reported that the perpetrator was an intimate, relative, friend, or acquaintance (Community Notifications Laws. Megan’s Law. N. d.). (Word Count: 876).
References
Community Notification Laws. Megan’s Laws. (n. d.). Findlaw.com. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/community-notification-laws-megan-s-law
Reddington, F.P., Kreisel, B.W. (2009) SEXUAL ASSAULT. Durham, North Carolina. CAROLINA ACADEMIC PRESS
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (2009). CONSTITUTIONAL FIGHTS.WORDPRESS.COM. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from constitutionalfights.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/is-megans-law-constitutional-or-even-effective
US: Sex Offender Laws May Do More Harm Than Good. (2007). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://www.hrw.org/news/2007/09/11/us-sex-offender-laws-may-do-more-harm-good

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