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Megan''s Law: An Empirical Analysis

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $38,252)

This research study seeks to be the first of its kind to assess the empirical efficacy of New Jersey's Megan's Law (in its home state). Megan's Law was enacted in New Jersey in 1994 after the death and sexual molestation of Megan Kanka in Hamilton, New Jersey. President Bill Clinton signed the federal version of Megan's Law in 1996, giving states two years to implement the law, or risk losing federal funding. Today all fifty states have a version of Megan's Law. Despite widespread community and legislative support, there is no empirical evidence that such community notification and registration laws reduce the frequency of sex offenses. Additionally, what is not known is the true cost of implementing Megan's Law and the sex offender registry websites within the criminal justice system. As such, this study will approach the problem with a triangulated methodology. The main study goals are 1) to establish the prevalence of sexual offenses in New Jersey for the five years prior to the implementation of Megan's law and the five years after the inception of Megan's Law, 2) to compare a matched sample of sex offenders who left New Jersey State Prisons (NJSP) prior to Megan's law and were therefore not subject to the law to offenders who were released after the implementation of Megan's law and subject to its provisions, 3) Determine direct costs of program operation since the implementation of Megan's Law. Additional activities include report/manuscript writing, code book development and dissemination.


Date Created: August 30, 2006