Posted May 07, 2007 06:32 pm CDT
A groundbreaking – and costly – New Jersey law intended to help protect children against convicted sex offenders may not actually be making much of a difference, a recent study suggests.
Although such crimes have dropped in the wake of the pioneering 1994 law, which has served as a model for legislation elsewhere, it isn’t clear that Megan’s Law caused this effect, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Just a few studies have looked at whether community notification laws are effective,” says Phillip Witt, one of the consultants working on the federally funded study. “I believe they have very little effect.”
The New Jersey law, enacted after Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street from her home in suburban Trenton, requires released sex offenders to report their home addresses to authorities. Police must then keep track of their whereabouts and notify nearby residents. The tracking and notification systems costs state and county taxpayers millions in New Jersey alone.