When a grocery store manager was leafing through his inbox on a Monday morning earlier this year, he found an anonymously sent envelope containing a page that had appeared to have been printed from a “Megan’s Law” Web site, which states set up to identify sex offenders to the public.The manager immediately recognized the man in the mug shot.It was one of his store employees who at that moment was stocking store shelves about 50 steps away.
The laws are named for Megan Nicole Kanka, who at age 7 was sexually assaulted and murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender who was living across the street from her.
In May 1996, President Clinton signed an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children Act that required each state in the country to notify the public about sexual offenders who reside in their area.
Today, each state publicly discloses information about convicted sexual offenders.
At least 48 states have developed easily accessible sex offender Internet registries.
According to the advocacy group Parents for Megan’s Law Inc., more than 540,000 individuals were listed in 2006 on Megan’s Law registries across the United States.
The database of information about sexual offenders allows the public to peruse the registries free of charge and, with only a few keystrokes, identify who in their communities has been convicted of sexual offenses.