Sunday, May 06, 2007

Study: Child sex attacks decreased before passage of Megan's Law

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Researchers conducting a study of Megan's Law have found that child sex assaults were decreasing even before the landmark legislation was passed in 1994.

The new federal study is trying to determine whether Megan's Law _ named after a suburban Trenton girl who was raped and murdered by a sex offender living in her neighborhood _ is worth the millions of dollars spent by local and county government to notify residents when a convicted sex offender moves nearby.

The law, one of the first of its kind in the nation, requires sex criminals to report to authorities where they are living. It has been a model for dozens of similar laws throughout the country.

Researchers found that sex attacks against children began to decline three years before Megan's Law took effect in 1994 and have continued downward, raising concern that the law may not have influenced the decline.

"We don't know whether Megan's Law really works," Phillip Witt, a consultant to the study, told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Sunday newspapers.

The study cost $38,252 and is being conducted by the state Department of Corrections. It is expected to be completed early next year.

According to data compiled by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, sex offenses against children fell 49 percent between 1990 and 2004.

"Megan's Law is riding the coattails of the natural downward trend," said Kristen Zgoba, a Corrections Department researcher who is heading up the study. "Is it worth the amount of money and manpower we're pouring into it?"

To maintain an Internet registry of about 11,300 sex offenders, of which about 2,190 are regarded as high risk, the state pays seven full-time employees between $35,000 and $52,000 a year. Door-to-door notifications can cost thousands as well.

But at least one person says the benefits of knowing if a sex offender lives nearby far outweighs the cost.

Maureen Kanka, Megan's mother, said she believed the law named after her daughter will outweigh the scrutiny.

"If I had known there was a pedophile living across the street, Megan would be alive and well today," she said. "Is the law perfect? No. Does it make a difference? Absolutely."



Anonymous the angry offender said...

Much discussion has already taken place on "Would Megan's Law Have Saved Megan?" The most interesting piece of information I recall having read during a search for more relating to that question was this: there was a house with multiple convicted sex offenders near the Kanka residence. Guess what? EVERYONE on that block knew what the deal was with that house, EXCEPT for the Kanka family. Police to this day are not REQUIRED to go door-to-door and put out fliers and generally raise alarms all day long when a sex offender moves in. In my estimation, Maureen Kanka has spent the past decade or so attempting to make up for her extreme ignorance, punishing and even causing the murder of some convicted sex offenders that would never commit a sex crime again. Megan's Law is the product of a mad woman attempting to thwart her stinging conscience about being so ignorant by forcing law enforcement to notify her instead of her becoming more proactive about her childrens' safety. She's done an excellent job of wrecking hundreds of thousands of lives, but no proof exists, more than a decade later, that the fruits of her labor have yielded one single prevented sex offense. She may feel better, but she's cost government (and thus taxpayers vicariously) at all levels billions of dollars to settle her conscience, while having a net negative effect on the country as a whole.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I read recently that she did know that there was sex offenders living in the neighborhood and she actually had some work for her. Perhaps this could and should be looked into because, yes, it has ruined thousands of families

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This WOULD be interesting to know!

11:13 AM  

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