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Is Megan's Law Working?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter

That's pretty scary. I hope that people aren't getting a false sense of security on the basis of "knowing" who is in your neighborhood or living near your child's school.

It is a good idea, and hopefully they can work on the bugs in the system so that it may actually prevent crimes from happening.
post #2 of 17
I would think it would be very hard to keep track of where everyone is living all the time. The house next door to me is a rental and has been occupied 12 times in the 3 years I have lived here. The offenders are responsible for keeping a current address in the system, but most of them dont.
post #3 of 17
I do not know too much about this, but here's my two cents.

I find it makes a perfect sense to make sure that a local police knows a convicted sexual predator lives in the area. People in probation for petty crimes have to even show up in the local state police station every now and then, and if they move notify the local state police in the other place. So why not have a police station know there is a sex offender living in town? That way, if such a crime happens, you already have a list of "usual suspects". Specially taking into account the small amount of people we are talking about, so we can't talk about police persecution or such.

Now, at the same time I think, if you are to notify a school/daycare it should be left only to the knowledge of the school or daycare. Particularly useful for employment. (Pretty bad for a daycare to hire a sex offender, huh?).

Now, what puts me somewhat uneasy is the idea of making it public knowledge to the public. Don't get me wrong. They have a very good point, and I am sure that if I had a child or if I was a young woman I would want to know about the convicted sexual predators in town and who they are to avoid them. But my fear is that it could set a precedent for doing that with other lesser crimes. I have heard of cases where someone becomes a pariah in a neighborhood because he was convicted of a crime and he may be incredibly reformed but people still avoid him, taking months if not years for people to take some confidence in the guy. Of course, you will want to avoid a sexual predator, but its the legal precedent that worries me, and how does this affects the chances of reforming that person.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Victor, this is already law. No debate about that, it's in place. States handle the public record portion differently - some are online, some you have to go to the police station and ask for the list.

The problem I see is that since it is already law, the enforcement of it seems to be pathetic. Sure, the onus is on the offender, but reality says a whole lot of them are not going to register. So it is up to the police to keep track of them, and to know who to keep track of.

Personally, I like the way Pennsylvania is set up, to track just the violent sexual predators. I think it would be ridiculous for someone who mooned someone in college to have to register for the rest of their lives, but the true sexual predators do need to be monitored. There is no reforming the true sexual predator, and many, many studies have already proven that.
post #5 of 17
Since this was mentioned, I was poking around in the sex offender registry for this county and there was a friend of mine from high school registered for sex with a minor..He was 19, she was 16. I think thats a bit ridiculous.
post #6 of 17
Well, that's different. It was giving me the impression that it was making it public even to those who did not ask for it (i.e., notifying people nearby the minute one of them moves). That makes more sense. I just hope that state legislators don't use it as a precedent to make such things about other crimes of a more pettier nature.

Heidi is right here. Starting to list cases such as the one Abby mentioned of having sex with a minor, is simply ridiculous. What would be next? You know, just because a 19 year old had a nutty night with a 16 year old girlfriend and having such register for the rest of their lifes, is plain ridiculous, and onerous (sp) for most places are full of those. What would be next? Teen sex?

It makes much more sense to monitor true sexual predators only, as you filter out the petty cases of somebody mooning his girlfriend in High School, and you can place bigger efforts on the real risk.
post #7 of 17
No Victor, they don't make it public to everyone unless someone goes looking for it. However, having small children as I do, I would like to be notified if there is a violent offender, or child molester moving into the area. Not so I could go picket his or her house or anything like that, but to be aware there is someone in the area that very well may prey on my children.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
I could be wrong, but I believe that they only send the lists to schools and such organizations. Places that are responsible for children. Other than that, you do have to seek it out for yourself.
post #9 of 17
The reason that Megan's Laws make sense is that these types of criminals who are sexually driven have an extremely high rate of recidivism. Something is wired wrong in their brains or hormone production. Ask any cop or shrink and they will tell you the chances of such a criminal again committing a similar act or worse is very real.

At the same time, 'cluttering' up the lists with people who are convicted of things like statuatory rape' like the 19 and 16 year old example, where both were consenting & probably not thinking, doesn't help enforcement. Maybe they need longer reporting periods to parole officers for sex offenders who serve their full sentences, so not reporting in is a crime.

For those who aren't familiar with the original story, it is named for a little girl in NJ killed by a paroled sex offender who was sharing a house on her street with two other sex offenders, kind of like a group home for perverts. How anyone thought that would even make sense is beyond me.

I once looked up the NYS list. I had to provide them with information abt myself, and I assume they registered my IP number, I guess so that if one of these guys turned up dead the next day...I only found 3 in my fairly large zip-code but that probably has more to do with the cost of rent in NYC than anything else!
post #10 of 17
Since Megan's law is a federal law it applies here. So I decided to search for the Puerto Rico records. I never found an online list handled by the PR government. I found a private website with a free trial that I place my zip code. It says that in all of my zip code there is no one. And that's a zip code that covers half of one of the largest/most important cities in PR.

In Puerto Rico rape in itself is rare, compared to rates in most of the USA. And in all our history we haven't had a single serial murderer or rapist, and there is not a single policeman here who has heard of a sexual predator. So even if I was to drop by police headquarters to ask for such a list, they may have never heard of Megan's law. I guess that's a good thing, for it shows that sexual offenders are no big problem here.
post #11 of 17
Originally posted by yoviher
In Puerto Rico rape in itself is rare, compared to rates in most of the USA. And in all our history we haven't had a single serial murderer or rapist, and there is not a single policeman here who has heard of a sexual predator.
I beg to differ. I have been doing research on sexual assault for many years...including in PR. The rates of sexual assault (including rape) are no different in PR than in the USA. The difference is that US American women are more likely to report their assaults than are women in PR and other Latin American countries. This is based on surveys of women in the general population, those seeking services at Rape Crisis Centers, and those seeking psychotherapy.

Regarding serial rape....there are many serial rapes that are never reported that way in the media. Talk to anyone at a Rape Crisis Center and they can tell you all about the various serial rapists in the community. It is only when the media gets ahold of the information that the public finds out about it. Police departments certainly don't want the public to know about these rapists, so they aren't going to call up the press and tell them to publicize the fact that a preditor is on the loose.

Sadly, as long as people continue to believe that it doesn't happen in my neck of the woods, victims are going to continue to stay hidden because they don't want to be known as the only victim around, and because when societies believe it doesn't happen to them, the message to victims is that since rape doesn't happen here, there must be something wrong with you that it happened to you. sigh.....
post #12 of 17
Good lord.... Renae, you say that the sexual assault rates in Latin America are not much different than in the US, but Latin American women are less likely to report it. Has anyone come up with any theories to explain that?

I can bring out the lack of confidence in the police here (which is due to their inefficiency and corruption) that it would be perceived that it is a waste of time to be reporting it.

The other reason is basically what you mentioned, about the perception that it doesn't happen here. Although few people would think that it is something wrong with the victim, that would be the message that comes across.
post #13 of 17
Originally posted by yoviher
Although few people would think that it is something wrong with the victim
Unfortunately, this is exactly what most people do believe. People tend to believe that as long as I'm a good person nothing bad will happen to me. They think this because it allows them to believe that the world is a safe place as long as they are good. So, because of this Just World Hypothesis in which bad things only happen to bad people, when they see a victim of a rape, they tell themselves "she must have done something wrong for this to have happened to her." So, they say things to her like, "why were you out with him?" or "what were you wearing" or "why did you go out to that pub" or other statements which tell her either directly or indirectly that it was her fault. We also see that in societies in which virginity is highly prized and expected, that the rates of reporting of sexual assaults goes down. This makes sense because having their virginity stolen "dirties" or "ruins" them.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
...and if you don't believe that people try to blame the victim, just look at the Kobe Bryant case. That poor girl has had her name and picture splashed across the tabloids (in direct violation of Colorado state law too!). The defense is trying to get her whole sexual history admitted into court, i.e. public record. Their defense is that she is promiscuous (in other words - well, if she had sex with all of these men, then she couldn't have been raped by Kobe Bryant. Like she has no right to say "No" if she's not virginal...). Because of the high profile of the case, she has received multiple death threats, one person was arrested for trying to put a hit out on her, she can no longer hold down a job or attend school. Her life is ruined, essentially because she decided to report it. No matter what the outcome, she will probably have to move, change her name and appearance to avoid the stigma.

Granted, that is involving a celebrity and international press, but the same things can happen on a smaller scale to anyone reporting rape. Now, put that into a context of a very male dominated and dominant culture that is seen in many Latin American countries...
post #15 of 17
Originally posted by valanhb
Now, put that into a context of a very male dominated and dominant culture that is seen in many Latin American countries...
I would like to beg to differ here: Feminism in most of Latin America, particularly Hispanic America is currently at almost the same level as in the US. Not to say we are perfect, the truth is that our culture is about as male dominated as that in North America or Western Europe. We still have problems with that, but when you look at them closely, they are most of the time, a Spanish translation of the same problems that are found in the states. Just remember that Latin American culture is an European/Western culture (it was just conquered by a different European power ), so it is not much different.

Nothing personal, just clearing a generalization/misconception.

As for the rest of your post and Renae's, I see your point and agree a lot with you folks there. It is very unfortunate, how many people, be it intentionally/unintentionally put blame on the victim. And saying thins such as "Why did you enter that pub" all they do is create more that gnawing feeling of "Had I done this or that".
post #16 of 17
Perhaps a means of reforming the law is to ensure that for those serial rapist and such their sentencing includes not just jail time but a psychiatric assessment. Such that they cannot be released unless it is determined that it is reasonably safe to conclude that the person would no longer rape again.

While Latin America may get part of its culture from the West, you must realise that level of patriarchy is not constant across the developed west. Furthermore, the level of legal protection against gender type discrimination is even more varied across the West. Culture is the be all and end all. A country without an effective national plan aimed at the problems women faced because of a male dominated society can quickly end up behind another country even though they may have been culturally similar. For example to a certain extent Brazil have a western culture. Yet juries in the country have consistently allowed a man to kill his wife and be allowed to leave on the basis of it being an "honour killing."

As for rape, even the term victim seems to stigmatise these women survivors of violence. And by treating with a 'kids glove' further victimize them and cast a form of social stigma on them. Furthermore, it is only recently that some nations are beginning to recognise that a husband can be held liable for rape of his wife.
post #17 of 17
Some interesting (frightening actually) stuff on violence against women from Amnesty International March 2004


49.7% of the world population are women (3,132,342,000 women; 3,169,122,000 men) (UN Population Division).

At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are "missing" from various populations as a result of sex-selective abortions or inadequate care as they are seen less important than boys (E, Joni Seager, 2003).


Violence within the family takes different forms - from physical aggression, such as slapping, hitting, kicking and beating to psychological abuse, such as intimidation, constant belittling and humiliation, including various controlling behaviours, such as isolating a person from their family and friends, monitoring and restricting their movements, access to information or assistance.

Around the world:

At least one in every three women, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her (L Heise, M Ellsberg, M Gottemoeller, 1999).
Up to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their male partners (WHO 2002).

In Kenya more than one woman a week was reportedly killed by her male partner (Joni Seager, 2003).

In Zambia five women a week were murdered by a male partner or family member (Joni Seager 2003).

In Egypt 35% of women reported being beaten by their husband at some point in their marriage (UNICEF 2000).

In Bolivia 17% of all women aged 20 years and over have experienced physical violence in the previous 12 months (WHO 2002).

In Canada the costs of violence against the family amount to $1.6 billion per year, including medical care and lost productivity (UNICEF 2000).

In the USA a woman is battered, usually by her husband/partner, every 15 seconds (UN Study on the World's Women, 2000).

In Bangladesh 50% of all murders are of women by their partners (Joni Seager, 2003).

In New Zealand 20% of women reported being hit or physically abused by a male partner (UNICEF 2000).

In Pakistan 42% of women accept violence as part of their fate; 33% feel too helpless to stand up to it; 19% protested and 4% took action against it (Government study in Punjab 2001).

In the Russian Federation 36,000 women are beaten on a daily basis by their husband or partner, according to Russian non-governmental organizations (OMCT 2003).

In Spain one woman every five days was killed by her male partner in 2000 (Joni Seager, The Atlas of Women).

About two women per week are killed by their partners in the United Kingdom (Joni Seager, 2003).


Rape is the most violent form of sexual violence. Rape is also associated with unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. However, rape is greatly under reported because of the stigma attached to it, and even more rarely punished.

Around the world:

One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime (WHO 1997).

In South Africa 147 women are raped every day (South African Institute for Race Relations 2003).

In the USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds (US Department of Justice, 2000).

In France 25,000 women are raped per year (European Women's Lobby, 2001).

In Turkey 35.6% of women have experienced marital rape sometimes and 16.3% often (surveys published in 2000, Women and sexuality in Muslim societies, WWHR Publications: Istanbul, 2000).


Violence against women during conflict has reached epidemic proportions. Mass rape is frequently used systematically, as a weapon of war. On top of this, during conflict women are physically and economically forced to become prostitutes, sometimes in order to secure the basic necessities for their families. War impacts on women in other ways - women and children are also the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Around the world:

80% of the refugees are women and children (UNHCR, 2001).

Millions of women and children are caught in 34 communal, ethnic, political and/or international armed conflicts around the world (all active instances of societal armed conflicts as of 1 January 2003, CSP-Centre for Systemic Peace).

Trafficking of women and girls was reported in 85% of the conflict zones (Save the Children 2003).

In the Democratic Republic of Congo 5,000 cases of rape, corresponding to an average of 40 a day, were recorded in the Uvira area by women associations since October 2002 (UN 2003).

In Rwanda between 250,000 and 500,000 women, or about 20% of women, were raped during the 1994 genocide (International Red Cross report, 2002).

In Sierra Leone 94 per cent of displaced households surveyed had experienced sexual assaults, including rape, torture and sexual slavery (Physicians for Human Rights, 2002).

In Iraq at least 400 women and girls as young as eight were reported to have been raped in Baghdad during or after the war, since April 2003 (Human Rights Watch Survey, 2003).

Every 14 days a Colombian woman is a victim of forced "disappearance" according to a 2001 report by the Women and Armed Conflict Work Table (UNIFEM 2001).

Approximately 250,000 Cambodian women were forced into marriage between 1975 and 1979. On average, two group marriages may have taken place in every Cambodian village during the Khmer Rouge regime (UNIFEM).

In Bosnia and Herzegovina 20,000 - 50,000 women were raped during five months of conflict in 1992. (IWTC, Women's GlobalNet #212. 23rd October 2002).

In some villages in Kosovo, 30%-50% of women of child bearing age were raped by Serbian forces (Amnesty International, 27 May 1999).


Virtually every culture in the world contains forms of violence against women that are nearly invisible because they are seen as "normal" or "customary".

Around the world:

More than 135 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation and an additional 2 million girls and women are at risk each year (6,000 every day) (A, UN, 2002).

82 million girls who are now aged 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday (UNFP).

In more than 28 countries in Africa, female genital mutilation is practised (Amnesty International, 1997).

In Niger 76% of the poorest young women will marry before the age of 18 (UNFPA 2003).

97% of married women in Egypt aged 15 to 49 have undergone female genital mutilation (WHO survey, 1996).

In Iran 45 women under the age of 20 have been murdered in so-called "honour" killings by close relatives in Iran's majority ethnic Arab province of Khuzestan in a two-month period in 2003 (Middle East Times, 31 October 2003).

Female genital mutilation has been reported in Asian counties such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka as well as among immigrant communities in Australia (UN 2002).

In India there are close to 15,000 dowry deaths estimated per year. Mostly they are kitchen fires designed to look like accidents (Injustices Studies. Vol. 1, November 1997).

FGM is performed amongst immigrant communities in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UN 2002).


Violence against women goes widely unreported. There are various factors which prevent women from reporting incidents of violence, such as fear of retribution, lack of economic means, emotional dependence, concern for children and no access to redress. Few countries have special training for the police, judicial and medical staff to deal with rape cases.

Around the world:

Around 20-70% of abused women never told another person about the abuse until being interviewed for the study by WHO (WHO, Geneva, 2002).

In South Africa the conviction rate for rape remains low at an average of 7%. A third of the estimated number or rapes were reported in 2003 (Police Annual Report for the year ending March 2003).

In Egypt 47% of physically abused women never told anyone (Population-based study, 1999) (WHO 2002).

In Chile only 3% of all raped women report the incident to the police (WHO 2002).

In the USA 16% of women report rapes to the police; of those who do not, nearly 50 per cent of women would do so if they could be assured that their names and private details would not be released publicly (National Victim Center /Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992).

In Australia 18% of women who were physically assaulted in a period of 12 months never told any one (Population-based study, 1999).
In Bangladesh 68% of women never told anyone about being beaten (WHO 2002).

In Austria 20% of reported rape cases ended in convictions in the 1990s (London Metropolitan University, 2003).

In Ireland 20% of physically abused women contacted the police (Population-based study, 1999; WHO 2002).

In the Russian Federation 40% of women victims of violence within the family do not seek help from law enforcement officials (International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Russia).

In the United Kingdom 13% of all raped women report the assault to the police (Joni Seager, 2003).


Violence against women often remains unchecked and unpunished. Some states have no laws at all, others have flawed laws which may punish some forms of violence but exempt others. Even with the appropriate legislation in place, many states fail to implement the law fully.

Around the world:

In 2003 at least 54 countries had discriminatory laws against women (based on a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women).

In her 1994-2003 review, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women highlighted problems of law enforcement in almost all of the reviewed states.

79 countries have no (or unknown) legislation against domestic violence (UNIFEM, Not a Minute More, 2003).

Marital rape is recognized specifically as a crime in only 51 countries as far as information was available (UNIFEM, 2003).

Only 16 nations have legislation specifically referring to sexual assault, while as few as three have legislation that specifically addresses violence against women as a category of criminal activity in itself (Bangladesh, Sweden and USA) (UNIFEM 2003).

So called "honour" defences (partial or complete) are found in the penal codes of Peru, Bangladesh, Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, the West Bank and Venezuela (UN 2002).


Increasingly, violence against women is recognized as a major public health concern. Violence can affect woman's reproductive health as well as other aspects of her physical and mental well being. Sexual violence against women has led to higher infection rates of HIV/AIDS than among men of the same age group.

Around the world:

51% of all people living with HIV/AIDS today (over 20 million) are women (UNIFEM, 2003).

World-wide, over half of new HIV infections are occurring among young people between the ages of 15 to 24, and over 60% of HIV-positive youth between the ages of 15-24 are women (UNAIDS, 2003).
55% of the 16,000 new infections occurring daily are women (UNAIDS, 2003).

AIDS now ranks as one of the leading causes of death among women aged 20 to 40 in several cities in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and North America (UNAIDS, 2003).

Three million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2003 (UNAIDS, 2003).
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