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Megan’s Law: A Decade of Developments  

Author:  Karen  Terry.

Source: Volume 07, Number 05, August/September 2006 , pp.67-69(3)

Sex Offender Law Report

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On May 17, 1996, then-President Bill Clinton enacted a federal Registration and Community Notification Law (RCNL). Megan’s Law, as it became known, set guidelines for the state statutes and, in conjunction with the Jacob Wetterling Act, required all states to implement RCNL by the end of 1997 or risk losing federal funding for state and local law enforcement. Megan’s Law had a simple goal—to protect the community from known sex offenders— yet it consisted of complicated guidelines and procedures that varied from state to state. Ten years later, RCNL statutes still vary considerably, but they have evolved into a more uniform structure as a result of thousands of cases heard in the courts throughout the decade. Most states require the triggering offense to be sexual in nature; others require registration for crimes against children even if the crimes are not necessarily sexual in nature.


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