By Mike Davis
TRENTON - The state Senate this week approved an updated Megan’s Law that would place added focus on digital and electronic mediums.
The original Megan’s Law was adopted in 1994 and named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton, who was raped and killed by a neighbor who was a twice-convicted sex offender.
The law created the first sex-offender database, which has become a standard throughout the country.
If signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, the updated bill would provide additional training for parole officers to identify supervised sex offenders who are using electronic devices, including computers and the internet, for unlawful activities.
Additionally, it would impose a $30 monthly penalty for sex offenders, providing revenue to pay for additional parole officers and supervisory equipment.
- It's nothing more than an extortion fee.
“Like any piece of legislation, as times change, it is important for the Legislature to revisit and update it,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), a co-sponsor of the bill.
“Since technology has so rapidly advanced, parents must now be vigilant against sexual predators both when their children are outside and inside the home, because luring and sexual advances can happen on computers and phones in living rooms and bedrooms. This legislation will help better arm law enforcement — including parole officers — with the skills, training and tools to effectively monitor those convicted of sex crimes to ensure the continued safety of our kids.”
The bill would also provide that juveniles who commit a sexting offense, transmitting sexually explicit images via cell phone or computer, won’t have to register as sex offenders.
Critics of the law have said it paints with broad brush strokes and does little to reduce the rate of recidivism among released sex offenders.
“It’s no longer a safety tool, where people can look and say, ‘These people might be dangerous to my kids,’” USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry Executive Director Shana Rowan told The Times last year.
“Offenders need to be held accountable, but it gets to a point where, once somebody has served their time and is back out into the community, a lot of these laws are set up to make them fail,” she said.