July 2000Vol. 1, No. 5"Megan's Law" May Apply in Cyberspace, College Campuses
The reach of "Megan's Law" might soon extend to the Internet and college campuses.
The 1996 Federal law requires States to disclose information to citizens about convicted sex offenders in their communities. All 50 States have implemented the law.
Measures related to Megan's law being considered in two States and by Congress aim to protect children from online sexual predators. Congress also is considering a bill that would apply Megan's law to college campuses. Another bill before Congress with echoes of Megan's Law would discourage States from paroling individuals convicted of murder, rape, or child molestation.
The New York State Senate has passed a bill requiring convicted sex offenders to report their Internet accounts and screen names to police or face charges. In Texas, Bexar County officials are considering a measure that would require convicted sex offenders to use Internet service providers that filter out pornographic or sexually oriented sites.
At the Federal level, versions of the Cybermolesters Enforcement Act have been introduced in both the House (H.R.4076) and Senate (S.2280). The Act would impose sentences of 5 to 15 years on persons convicted of stalking children on the Internet. Currently, the average sentence imposed is 18 months.
Congress also is considering the Campus Protection Act (H.R.4407), which would require universities to notify parents and students when a convicted sex offender is enrolled or employed at the school. Currently, a Federal privacy law protects the identities of convicted sex offenders on college campuses.
Congress held hearings in May on H.R.894, the "No Second Chances for Murderers, Rapists, or Child Molesters Act of 1999," also known as "Aimee's Law." This bill would encourage States to apply stiffer penalities for individuals convicted of murder, rape, or child molestation--life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and in the case of murderers, a possible death penalty.
States that parole murderers, rapists, and child molesters who then recommit the same crimes would lose Federal law enforcement funds. The Federal government would use the funds to compensate the additional victims (or their estates). If the new crime occurs in another State, the Federal government also would use the funds to reimburse the other State for costs related to the crime.
The legislation is named in honor of Aimee Williard, a 22-year-old college student who was kidnapped from her car in 1996 in Pennsylvania, raped, and murdered. Arthur J. Bomar Jr., who was sentenced to death for the crime, had been paroled from a Nevada prison where he served a little over 11 years for another murder. Prior to Willard's murder, he had been arrested four times in Pennsylvania but was not returned to Nevada for parole violation.
To learn more about any of these Federal bills, visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress, at http://thomas.loc.gov.
In this issue:
- "Would Megan's Law Work Online?"
- "Study Examines Online Victimization of Youth"
In previous issues:
- "Courts Issue Rulings on State Versions of 'Megan's Law'" (May 2000)
- "Pros and Cons of Online Sex Offender Registries" (April 2000)
To track court rulings and other news related to Megan's Law, search APBnews.com (http://www.apbnews.com). (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)