Thursday, January 27, 2005

Megan's Law Reinforced...despite the ACLU

About three years ago I became obsessed with Megan's Law and sex offender registries. I guess this was/is the product of having young children, reading way too much and an Oprah show on sex offenders that outlined deviant M.O. and gave disconcerting statistics... I would email my friends the lists of registries for their neighborhoods and constantly look to see if new people had been added.

Governor Tom Ridge introduced this identification program in 1995 (and signed the Pennsylvania Act into law). Megan's Law was signed into federal law in 1996 by Bill Clinton (prompted by the brutal rape and murder of Megan Kanka). It has two components: Sex Offender registration and Community notification. PA ran into some problems with this law as certain ACLU-type groups lobbied for the sex offenders --arguing that community notification was punishing them twice, and that it was an undue burden if they had already served their sentence. PA was one of the only states that had no information on-line.

Regardless of the lack of information in the official registry, I knew it was my right to know if there was anyone in my neighborhood. I went to my local police station and told them I wanted a list and that I knew it was my right to ask. They said there was no one. I then asked one of the cops that I know and he told me there was one man --but that he's almost 90 and can barely walk now.

Yesterday, Singlemom emailed me with a zip code search for Megan's Law offenders in PA...and it works! Thank you Singlemom! In the excitement around the run up to the election and the subsequent win --I completely missed that Gov. Ed Rendell made significant changes to Megan’s Law in Law no. 92. "Most notably, information on all registered sex offenders now will be available to the public through the internet."

So now I have what I have wanted for the last three years...a list. But now I am upset because I do have a list...and it has six people on it...all in my tiny little neighborhood...and there are no addresses like other States have...so I don't know if they are two houses down or blocks away...and one was arrested for attempted deviate acts and attempted sodomy...now what do I do with this information that I wanted so bad (that is still incomplete)?

I am a FULL supporter of this law and of all measures to keep our children safe. I abhor groups that have fought (and continue to fight) these laws (Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance and -of course -the ACLU), but thankfully the Supreme Court decided to uphold this law across the board. I am confident it was this Supreme Court decision that allowed PA to reinstate components of Megan's Law and made the database open to the public --though I think we are still the only state with no addresses for the offenders available.

Dear GLAA and ACLU --When you rape a child...you have NO civil rights...you have violated the most basic tenet of CIVILIZED society....and you deserve nothing...

Check the registry in YOUR STATE HERE.

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