Megan’s Law Faulted In Pa.; Rendell Wants Reform

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The Pennsylvania auditor general says the state’s version of Megan’s Law is inadequate and poorly enforced, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The auditor general says the public knows too little about sexual offenders living in the state. While other states alert communities about thousands of sexual offenders, Pennsylvania provides data on only a few dozen of almost 7,000 people convicted of sex crimes. In most of those cases, the Pennsylvania State Police issued inaccurate, late, and ineffective notices, the auditor general says.

Adrian King, an assistant to Gov. Ed Rendell, said the governor was stunned by the statistics in the report by Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr. and wants to expand Megan’s Law to require public notification for more sex offenders. The report showed that the public could get information on 27 sex offenders, compared with at least 1,341 in New Jersey, 1,441 in Delaware, and more than 17,000 in Illinois.

Megan’s Law requires state police to notify local law enforcement officials when sexually violent predators move into their communities. Local police have 72 hours to tell neighbors and seven days to notify schools and child-care centers.

Maureen Kanka, mother of 7-year old Megan Kanka, who was murdered in 1994, said she was glad that Pennsylvania was confronting this issue because the state’s law “is one of the poorest in the country.”

Others said Pennsylvania had properly limited notification. “The community-notification process can’t tell you who’s dangerous and who’s not. There are many variables,” said Larry Frankel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “Once you’re classified as a predator and subject to notification, it can make a difference about whether you can find a place to work or a place to live.” Others said notification gives communities a false sense of security. “Ninety percent of sex crimes are committed by someone the victim knows,” said Kim English, director of research at the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. “Community notification perpetuates the myth that strangers commit these crimes.”

Link: http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/8343920.htm?1c

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