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Revisiting Megan's Law and Sex Offender Registration:Prevention or Problem

2001 NCJ 195572:

Both convicted sex offenders and innocent citizens have experienced serious and negative consequences resulting from the implementation of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, passed in 1994, which included national sex offender registration laws, and Megan's Law, passed in 1996, requiring public notification of sex offender release. This paper reviews the predictions made by the author in 1996 regarding these laws and the negative impact documented since their implementation. ..Source.. by Robert E. Freeman-Longo, MRC, LPC

Comment by author pg-3: One of the greatest concerns of some of these authors was the potential of Megan's Law to result in harm to, and/or victimization of, innocent persons who are not sexual abusers as well as harm to, and victimization of, sex offenders identified under the law.

Author Summary:
There is no doubt that unexpected problems and blatant abuses of sex offender registration and notification laws have occurred. Many of these were foreseeable and could have been avoided with more planning, research, and forethought about potential problems. With the writing of this paper, I hope we will not take another five or six years to revise these laws. The laws need to be more uniform between states, less punitive and destructive to sex offenders, less destructive to the lives of innocent persons, and more preventive (even though prevention will only occur in a limited way with these laws). Until we look at them closely and research their potential effectiveness, I am concerned that laws designed to protect our citizens may, instead, do more damage than if they did not exist at all.

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