|In 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, New Jersey was murdered by a neighbor and convicted sex offender. Because sex offender convictions were classified as confidential information, the Kanka family was unaware that a convicted sex offender lived across the street from them.
In September 1996, to prevent other tragedies of this type, the California State Legislature established California's version of the federal "Megan's Law." A new California Law, Assembly Bill 488 (Nicole Parra) sponsored by the Attorney General now provides the public with Internet access to detailed information on registered sex offenders.
This expanded access allows the public for the first time to use their personal computers to view information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement under California's Megan's Law. Previously, the information was available only by personally visiting police stations and sheriff's offices or by calling a 900 toll-number. The new law was given final passage by the Legislature on August 24, 2004 and signed by the the Governor on September 24, 2004.
For more than 50 years, California has required sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agencies. However, information on the whereabouts of these sex offenders was not available to the public until the implementation of the Child Molester Identification Line in July 1995. The information available was further expanded by implementation of California's Megan's Law.
The California Department of Justice assigns agents to Sexual Predator Apprehension Teams (SPATs) to work with local law enforcement to arrest sex offenders who do not comply with registration laws. The SPATs, along with many local law enforcement agencies, deserve credit for decreasing the percentage of offenders who are not properly registered.
Megan's Law is not intended to punish the offender and specifically prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against an offender.
The public can view California sex registrant information by visiting the Office of the Attorney General's Web site at meganslaw.ca.gov.