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MEGAN'S LAW

Prompted by the tragic murders of Megan Kanka and Amanda Wengert, citizens of this state demanded a law that would let them know when a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood. Then Governor Christine Todd Whitman and the state Legislature responded by approving a series of laws collectively known as "Megan's Law".

Megan's Law created a registration and notification procedure to alert law enforcement, schools, community organizations and neighbors to the presence of a sex offender who authorities believe may pose a risk to the community.

New Jersey's law, commonly known as "Megan's Law," requires convicted sex offenders to register with local police. Megan's Law also establishes a three-tier notification process to provide information about offenders to law enforcement agencies and, when appropriate, to the public. The type of notification is based on an evaluation of the risk to the community from a particular offender. The Attorney General's Office, in consultation with a special 12-member council and experts in the fields of mental health and law enforcement, has provided county prosecutors who must make that evaluation, with the scale to be used in determining the level of risk posed by the offender.

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT MEGAN'S LAW


Q. Are all sex offenders required to register with local police?

A. Sex offenders who have been released from custody since Megan's Law went into effect on Oct. 31, 1994, are required to register with the police. In addition, offenders who were on parole or probation on the effective date of the law, as well as offenders who have been found to be repetitive and compulsive by experts and the courts - regardless of the date of sentence - are required to register. Some registrants must verify their address annually; others must verify their address every 90 days.


Q. Will I always be notified if a convicted sex offender moves into my neighborhood?

A. Under the law, sex offenders who reside in the community are classified by prosecutors in one of three "tiers" based on the degree of risk they pose to the public: High (Tier 3), Moderate (Tier 2) or Low (Tier 1).


Q. Who gets notified for each classification (Tier)?

A. Low : Tier 1 : Police only.
Moderate : Tier 2 :Registered community organizations involved with children or with victims of sexual abuse, schools, day care centers, and summer camps.
High : Tier 3 :All of the above as well as neighbors.


Q. What factors are considered in determining the risk of re-offense?

A. Megan's Law and its guidelines list numerous factors to be considered in weighing the risk of re-offense, including past-incarceration supervision, the status of therapy or counseling, criminal background, degree of remorse for criminal acts, substance abuse, employment or schooling status, psychological or psychiatric profile and a history of threats or of stalking locations where children congregate.


Q. What information is provided in a notification?

A. In all three levels of notification, the information provided includes the offender's name, description and photograph, address, place of employment or school if applicable, a description of the offender's vehicle and license plate number and a brief description of the offense.


Q. What should I do if I receive a notification?

A. Reinforce general precautions about staying away from strangers and ask your children to tell you or their caretakers where they will be at all times. Use the information responsibly. Talk to your children. Tell them to treat the sex offender as a stranger. Tell them where the sex offender lives, what he or she looks like and what to do if they encounter or are approached by that person. If you believe that a crime is being committed by a sex offender contact your local law enforcement agency immediately as you would do in any case of suspected criminal activity.


Q. Are there any other steps I can take to protect my family?

A. Yes. There is no law that can ever completely protect us. Adults need to teach children about basic safety precautions. Check with your child's school to determine whether a program is in place to teach children about strangers. Also, check with the school and other locations where your child spends time on a regular basis to determine whether safety precautions are in place.


Q. What am I prohibited from doing?

A. The prosecutor and the courts are responsible to determine who should receive notice about the presence of a particular individual in the community. You should not take it upon yourself to provide any information you receive to others in the community: that is the job of the prosecutor and local law enforcement. Any actions taken against the individual named in the notification, including vandalism of property, verbal or written threats of harm, or physical violence against this person, his or her family or employer, will result in arrest and prosecution for criminal acts. Vigilantism is not only a crime, it is an action that will undermine the efforts of those who have worked hard to enact this law.


Link to
www.meganslaw.org then go to: 'klass kids' and click on 'Megan's law in all 50 states' for more information.

 

 

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