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Megan's Law

Background

Megan Kanka was seven in 1994 when she was abducted and killed by a neighbor in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The neighbor, a twice-convicted child molester, lured Megan by asking if she wanted to see a puppy. Megan was raped, killed, and dumped in a nearby park. Her parents, devastated, indicated they would never have left Megan unsupervised in their neighborhood if they had known a sex offender lived nearby. This led to "Megan's Law," requiring public notification of sex offenders (Farley, 2008; Pennsylvania State Police, n.d.).

Enactment

Although the Wetterling Act had substantial consequences for convicted sex offenders, the federal Megan's Law, enacted in 1996, required that information regarding sex-offenders' registration be made public. The law was an amendment to the Violent Crime Control Act of 1994. Prior to Megan's Law, the focus was to inform law enforcement officials of sex offenders. This law broadened the focus to include community notification.

Pam Lynchner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996

Background

Pam Lynchner was a real estate agent in the Houston area. The following describes her harrowing incident that she survived:

One day in 1990 [Pam Lynchner] received a telephone call at home from a man who expressed an interest in looking at a house. Pam asked her husband, Joe, to come along for the showing. Pam stayed in the kitchen, and Joe went to another part of the house. A laborer who worked for the company Pam had hired to clean the house entered the house at the time of the appointment, claiming he had returned to finish the job. Police later theorized that it was he who had called to make the appointment. When Pam turned her back, the laborer—apparently unaware that someone else was in the house—grabbed her from behind, put his hand over her mouth, and attempted to rape her.

Hearing noises, Joe rushed to help his wife. While Joe struggled with the assailant, Pam ran to a neighbor's house for assistance. The suspect was arrested, convicted, and eventually sent to prison for 20 years. The suspect turned out to be a convicted rapist and child molester who had been released from state prison under a mandatory early release policy designed to ease prison overcrowding.

(Albro, 1997, n.p.)

Pam Lynchner's ordeal led to her becoming an activist for victims. This eventually led to the Pam Lynchner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 (Albro, 1997).

Enactment

The Pam Lynchner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 led to the establishment of the NSOR. It allowed the FBI to require sex offenders who lived in states with only minimal sex-offender registry programs to register on this national registry. It also required the FBI to periodically verify the addresses of the registered sex offenders. As needed, information could be released to the public. The Act also established guidelines for sex offenders to notify the registering authority when they moved to other states.

 
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