By Sandy . . . International Megan’s Law is without a doubt a waste of time and money and will cause harm in lives. Just as with regular Megan’s Law, research shows that its ability to offer any actual protection to children at risk of sexual harm is a few fractions of a percent above zero. The concerns are real, and attempts to address those concerns are legitimate, but all available evidence suggests that IML leaves the vast majority of the problem ignored, misdirected, and unaddressed. Furthermore, the threatened presence of a “unique identifier” placed on passports is an abomination, one never before seen in America to this extent.
In spite of that, relegating the concern over other horrendous, burdensome, life destroying restrictions placed on citizens on a sex offender registry to the back in favor of the major outcry against IML is puzzling and disturbing.
Residency and presence restrictions are by far more pervasive and destructive to the ability of registrants to establish stable life styles, support themselves and their families, and promote their safety and well-being.
39 of our 50 states have statewide laws in place — and allow them to be enacted by their counties and municipalities — that restrict to varying degrees where those on a registry may live, work, drive, and be. Some of these are written so that just being in the wrong place, even for an innocent or legitimate reason, may trigger a new sex crime charge and/or may send a registrant to prison.
Some restrictions are so onerous that, for all practical purposes, entire cities are off-limits. In worse-case scenarios, huge homeless populations form their own towns, creating groups of registrants living in the woods, in parking lots, and under bridges.
Laws that allow a seriously ill registered citizen to be kicked out of the home that had just been approved because of a neighbor’s complaint and banishes him to a tent in the woods without the oxygen he critically needs are more urgent than not being able to go to France.
Laws that define all state parks and waterways as off-limits and prohibit registered parents from taking their children camping or to lakes and beaches or to visit their state’s historical sites are more serious than those that interfere with a vacation in Mexico.
Laws that create hordes of desperate people living on the streets and then allow shelters to refuse them entry in frigid weather need addressing before those that prevent a trip to England.
Today’s sex offender industry has created little to nothing good. But laws that deny basic rights and constitutional protection to hundreds of thousands of citizens and their families living in America should be given priority over laws that affect the limited number who are able to travel abroad.