Next month, a committee of New Jersey legislators, law officers, defense attorneys, and victims’ advocates will discuss changes to Megan’s Law, the system designed to alert police and the public to the whereabouts of sex offenders, reports the Bergen Record. Topping the agenda is the merit of New Jersey’s tier system, in which sex offenders are designated by county prosecutors as having a low, moderate, or high risk to re-offend once they’ve completed their sentences. In September, paroled child molester Timothy Iberer was charged with trying to sexually assault a 5-year-old girl in her bedroom. Iberer had not been posted in the online registry because he was deemed a low risk.
The tier designation determines whether the offender’s name, address and photo will be published in an online registry maintained by the state police — and whether local cops will have to go door-to-door notifying residents that a sex offender has moved into the neighborhood. Some form of Megan’s Law is on the books in all 50 states. Half the states don’t use a tier system, and instead publish names and addresses of nearly all sex offenders online. Critics say Megan’s Law goes too far and oppose putting Tier 1 (low level) offenders online. “If you do that, you will destroy lives,” said Joseph Murphy, an attorney who’s handled many Megan’s Law cases. “What if a guy who is considered of little or no risk comes out of jail and starts a family? Everyone in the community will know about him. Other families won’t want to have anything to do with his family. You’ll destroy a thousand more lives than you save.”