(5-7 pages – Discuss scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to your particular issue, policy, or program, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on your topic
Megan’s Law and Public Safety
Megan’s law is meant to protect the public by requiring law enforcement officers to provide details of sex offenders living within their community. This is meant to ensure that people can identify previous offenders and as a result, take measures that can guarantee their safety. Based on Megan’s law, a public registry of sex offenders is created that can be accessed by any members of the public. The law is associated with both positive effects in terms of public safety but results in collateral damage in terms of stigma to listed offenders.
Megan’s law aid in punishing sex offenders and as a result discouraging potential offenders from committing similar crimes. According to Chaudhuri (2017), sex crime legislation such as Megan’s law do not aim to rehabilitate an offender but rather focus on punishing them. Most sex crime laws were put in place to improve public safety by both prescribing appropriate punishments for offenders as well as provide relevant information to the public that can enable them to protect themselves. Most sex crime legislation in place, however, does not aim to rehabilitate an offender through the use of programs that can enable them to deal with possible causes of their behavior. The fact that a potential offender is aware of the fact that they will be listed in a public registry may discourage them from committing a sex offense, which aids in improving public safety.
Megan’s law ensures that people are able to protect themselves from a possible attack by identifying the attacker early, which aids in improving public safety. According to Shelby and Hatch (2014), most people believe that sexual violence usually targets minors and is usually carried out by male predators. Most people rely on what they see in the media in forming their opinions about sex crime and the impact it can have on their lives. Due to high profile cases that usually emphasize the importance of Megan’s law in ensuring that the public is aware of previous sex offenders, most people believe that Megan’s law is an effective tool that can enable them to avoid sex offenders. People are more likely to use the public registry to identify sex offenders due to the information provided by the media in recent cases.
Laws that require the listing of sex offenders aid in improving public safety by making it difficult for an offender to repeat a crime. According to Terry (2014), most states have put in place laws that are intended to protect the public from potential sex offenders. Internet registries are maintained with details of previous sex offenders, residence restrictions, and monitoring law enforcement agencies are some of the most common ways that are used to prevent convicted offenders from repeating a crime. According to the study, the aggressive implementation of these laws makes it difficult for known offenders to repeat a crime as a result people around them will closely monitor them.
Megan’s law is also widely supported in different parts of the country by people who are likely to be affected by sex offenses in one way or another. According to Wiersma and Siedschlaw (2016), most students support the current legislation on sex offenses. Laws that require the registration and listing of sex offenders on the internet were also strongly supported by college students who believed they can improve public safety and by making it possible for people to quickly identify offenders. Most students also believed the use of capital punishment for repeat sex offenders was an effective measure. The fact that the majority of people in society support the public registration of sex offenders shows the seriousness of the harm that is associated with sex offenses.
Despite being popular, most people in society, however, do not use public registries on sex offenders to improve their safety by identifying offenders within their community. According to Harris and Cudmore (2018), most states in the country currently have detailed registries with information on existing sex offenders. Relatively few people in the community, however, use these registries despite having access to them, less than 50% of the people in a given community use these registries to identify sex offenders living near them (Harris & Cudmore, 2018). Most users who accessed the registries, however, ended up feeling less safer when they became aware of offenders living within their communities.
Megan’s law also aids in improving public safety by enabling the public to identify offenders in advance and take effective measures that can protect vulnerable groups in their community. There is however limited information available on the effectiveness of the law as a means of improving public safety. According to Vess, Day, Powell, and Graffam (2014), the registration of sex offenders is now a popular method used by law enforcement to ensure the public knows about them and can take necessary precautions in case the need arises. The cost of maintaining these registries and the impact they have on the civil liberties of offenders who are rehabilitating have also not been clearly researched.
The benefits of maintaining a public registry on sex offenses significantly outweigh the costs, which also makes it an ideal way of improving public safety. According to Jennings and Zgoba (2014), the registration of sex offenders plays a crucial role in ensuring public safety by providing early warnings to people in specific communities on the existence of sex offenders. This enables people to take precautionary measures that can ensure their safety. Studies show that the cost of creating and maintaining the registry is negligible when compared with the benefits it creates in terms of preventing sex offenses and crime in general (Jennings & Zgoba, 2014). It can, therefore, be concluded that the registration of sex offenders is an effective way of preventing sex offenses and should be retained.
The public listing of sex offenders also aids in the rehabilitation of sex offenders as they can receive much-needed support from those around them. According to Napier, Dowling, Morgan, and Daniel (2018), it is assumed that the registration of sex offenders is an effective method that can be used to deter possible crimes by making sure that people are aware of possible predators living within their community. Studies have shown that that indeed the availability of information on sex offenders in a given community can ensure that people take necessary precautions that can prevent the offender from repeating the crime (Napier, Dowling, Morgan, & Daniel, 2018). The registration of sex offenders, therefore, is an effective method of creating public safety.
Despite the fact that Megan’s law results in some degree of stigma for offenders, it still plays a crucial role in improving public safety and should be retained. According to Frenzel, Bowen, Spraitz, Bowers, and Phaneuf (2014), sex offenders who are listed in public databases have to deal with a great deal of stigma from friends and family and usually find it difficult to function effectively in society. Among the common challenges that listed offenders have to deal with include the loss of jobs and denial of employment opportunities. Listed offenders also find it difficult to find housing as well as maintain an active social life. According to Mancini (2014), there the stigma associated with listed sex offender aids in creating awareness about the negative effects of sex crime, which can aid in deterring others from committing similar crimes. This, however, aids in making the punishment for an offender more significant, which can discourage potential offenders from committing similar crimes.
In conclusion, the use of laws that can prevent sex offenses from being repeated is an effective measure that can be used to protect people in society from the dangers associated with sex predictors. The listing of known offenders is an effective measure that can be used to create public safety and ensure that people are able to protect themselves where necessary. When people know sex offenders that live in their community, they can provide better protection to vulnerable members of their family and prevent the crimes from being repeated. The listing of known sex offenders also aids in discouraging a potential offender from committing similar crimes due to the stigma that is associated with offenders that are listed. In general, the listing of known sex offenders improves public safety significantly and should be retained in the constitution.