Registration Of Sex Offenders

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Registration of Sex Offenders


The widespread growth of sex offender registration laws came about during the mid-1990s as a result of several events. The primary event leading to a public outcry to enact sex offender registration was the abduction of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. Kanka was abducted, raped, and killed by Jesse Timmendequas, a neighbor who lived across the street. Timmendequas was later found guilty of purposeful murder, felony murder, first degree kidnapping, and first degree aggravated assault and sentenced to life.

Following Megan's death, her parents and others in the neighborhood were shocked to find that Timmendequas had been convicted of other, prior sex crimes against minors. Megan's parents and other individuals in Megan's neighborhood went into action after Megan's death, advocating child protection laws to warn neighbors of sex offenders residing in the area. Within three months, the New Jersey legislature passed "Megan's Law," a law that required sex offenders to register with the State of New Jersey and also required community notification when an offender moves into a community.

Although this was not the first legislation of this type, this incident garnered the most attention and as a result sex offender registration laws are typically referred to as "Megan's Laws." Following the enactment of Megan's Law, the federal government followed suit passing the Wetterling Act. This Act required states to adopt sex offender notification statutes within three years or lose 10 percent of their federal funding under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act of 1968.[ 16] As a result, by 1997 every state and the District of Columbia had passed sex offender registration statutes.

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Registration of Sex Offenders


Sex offenses are among the most despised, feared, and commonly discussed forms of crimes in American society. Although sex offenses (rape, child molestation, sexual battery, etc.) are widely feared, they are not the most common types of criminal events in our society. According to the United States Department of Justice (2000), 14,704 arrests for rape were made in 1999. While this is certainly a large number, it represents only the sixth most common offense among the eight Index offenses (forcible rape outnumbers murder and arson). However, sex offenses and offenders constitute an important social problem that has been addressed through numerous legislative, collective grassroots, and individual responses. One significant legislative initiative of the past decade has been the widespread creation of sex offender registries and community notification procedures (Alexander 1999).

Problem statement

The purpose of the present study is to assess the accuracy of the information contained on the publicly accessible, Internet-based sex offender registry in one state. The registry examined in this study represents the second type of communication notification discussed above—information about registered sex offenders is available to members of the public who seek out the information (Zevitz 2000a).

Hypothesis If the creation and maintenance of such registries are to have any opportunity to fulfill their stated goals to promote “public safety and awareness,” registries need to ...
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