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here are also cases in which it is applied permanently, so that whenever the individual moves, they have to notify local police and law enforcement that they have done so. Failing to register or update in this manner is considered to be a felony under Megan’s Act.
This law was put into action after the murder of Megan Kanka, a young child. After this child was murdered by a sexual predator who was living nearby (the parents professed to have no idea), her parents circulated a petition that gained almost 500,000 signatures (Megan’s, 2010). The law was passed, and New Jersey, Kanka’s home state, was the first state to enact Megan’s Law. Overall, Megans Law provides two information services that are made available to the public: notification of sex offender registration, and notification of the community. As noted above, “The details of what is provided as part of sex offender registration and how community notification is handled vary from state to state, and in some states the required registration information and community notification protocols have changed many times since Megans Law was passed” (Megan’s, 2010).
Many people support Megan’s Law because it appears to be a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance, tough-on-crime policy. They also feel more at ease when they know that sexual offenders have to register with local authorities, so that the community can have more information. From the total harm perspective, Megan’s Law can be supported from the position that it decreases the total harm to society by making vital information about child sexual predators available to parents and families. Community notification and involvement is seen as positive in most media and scholarly presentations of the law, and generally, the law-abiding public can be seen to increase in their information access and comfort level, due to the law.
However, there are also possible dark sides to Megan’s Law. That some states use the law to notify about not just
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