Unspeakable Times

The Details And Controversies Of Megan’s Law, Explained

What is Megan's Law? It created the state sex offender registry, requiring offenders to report to local law enforcement and remain monitored, often for life. Sex offender laws derive from tragedy - with names like Megan's Law, the Jacob Wetterling Act, and Jessica's Law - and seek to provide justice for horrific crimes. So while few doubt the need for these laws, many question their scope, as current legislation tends to treat all offenders equally.

Take, for instance, the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" scenario, where an 18-year-old high school senior has consensual sex with his girlfriend, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, in a state where the age of consent is 16. Is this as egregious as a 45-year-old man who abducts and rapes a child? In the eyes of the law, those two sets of offenders often appear the same.

Many believe Megan's Law is a step towards justice, but others claim it has flaws. It fails to recognize most children endure abuse by someone they know, not a stranger. This fact alone makes it unlikely a registry would save a child's life. In the case of youthful offenders, meanwhile, a number of them don't go on to commit crimes as an adult.

Regardless of the issues, Megan's Law has brought about some serious consequences for offenders.

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