Criminology or criminal justice is one of the most exciting approaches in social sciences, which aim to analyze a crime as an individual or even social phenomenon. A crime is considered to be a violation of rules and laws set by the government in accordance with the legal regulations.
Usually, any kind of violation is pursued by a certain type of punishment. Unfortunately, nowadays, people can easily find out a way to be punished to a lesser extent or even avoid any kind of punishment. For example, when, in New Jersey, in 1994, Jesse Timmendequas raped and killed Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old girl, he was released within a certain period of time and got an opportunity to continue his crimes and murders.
This action called numerous misunderstandings from society, and was one of the reasons to create a law that requires a registration of all sexual offenders. Megan’s Law is served to notify the vast majority of sexual offenders in society; its study allows to analyze the impact of the law on inhabitants of New Jersey, its effects and effectiveness, and the implementation of the law in the other states of America and even in the whole world.
People should get an opportunity to be protected against offenders and other criminals, and Megan’s Law is one of the brightest steps to make our life more or less normal, as no one can be sure about personal safety and the safety of his/her relatives.
Megan’s Law is a general name of the laws, which make the information about sexual offenders available to the public. Usually, state representatives include names, pictures, and addresses of offenders, and the nature of crimes they commit. Such kind of information is available online and in special mass media. So, if a person wants to know whether a sexual offender is living nearby, it is possible to get to know from such sources. Megan’s Law is a good attempt to protect society from numerous sexual offenders.
After their daughter was terribly killed, Richard and Maureen Kanka admit that if the parents have any chance to known more about people live around, they should use it in order to protect their children from sexual predators, who may live nearby. With the help of Megan’s Law, not only parents, but any person can easily find out whether a sexual offender is near or not.
Zgoba and Bachar (2009) present the necessary information about Megan’s Law. It is all about the fact that “sex offenders are required to register with the local police department within a specified time after release from prison.”
On the one hand, such information should be rather helpful and significant for people. On the other hand, such crimes and their publicity mark out the offenders for the rest of their lives and do not allow them to redeem their faults.
What is better: to provide society with an opportunity to know about all sexual offenders or give those offenders a chance to change their lives and be useful for society. However, it is impossible to be sure about past sexual offenders’ good intentions. This is why it is not that easier to be concerned about Megan’s Law effectiveness. Even if the crime does happen, the offender may be justified.
Even if the victim is killed, the killer can have all chances to spend some time in jail, and then continue living and committing numerous crimes. Even if the killer is justified and gets a chance to live among other people, he/she cannot be sure that he/she will get an opportunity to be justified by people, who have already lost someone. There are so many “even if”, and we cannot say for sure what way in order to punish the guilty will be correct after the crime has already committed.
Dantzker and Hunter (2000) point out that “research plays a very important role in criminal justice and criminology. It brings questions and answers, debates, and issues.” This is why it is crucially important to conduct researches in order to analyze the effectiveness of the actions taken.
In their article, Sex Offender Registration and Notification: Limited Effects in New Jersey, Zgoba and Bachar present a careful analysis of the effects of Megan’s Law, where they describe three major steps taken during the New Jersey Study: identification of trends, comparison what happed before and after this law’s implementation, and estimation of costs.
Identification of trends helps to define the years after and before the implementation of Megan’s Law. Ten years before and ten years after the law’s implementation are taken under consideration. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports provide this analysis of information.
During the second step, the actions of sexual offenders were carefully analyzed in the frames of certain communities. Their actions, behavior, relations to people around – all this were studied, and some differences were mentioned.
The last stage of research was intended to identify costs, which had to be spent on implementation of the law. Zgoba and Bachar (2009) underline that, in 1995, more than $555,565 was spent to implement the law in New Jersey. In 2006, the analysis showed that more than $3,9 million was received from 15 counties of New Jersey. 15 counties of New Jersey of the total 21 counties have already completed the survey.
Unfortunately, the results of Megan’s Law were not as successful as it should be. The number of victims and sexual offenders does not decrease. People still commit crimes, sexual offences in particular. Of course, inhabitants have more chances to find the protections; however, it is not always in time. Children are under a threat to be offended by sexual predators, and parents should use numerous kinds of protection to be sure about safety of their children.
As any law set by government, Megan’s Law has its limitations and even shortages. These shortages prevent from getting concrete results in this research and clear effects of the law. First of all, it is necessary to admit that not every sexual crime is reported. There are still some people, who, by certain reasons, do not want to inform the others about the crime committed.
Not all sexual offences are reported, and such keeping back serves as the major cause of not true offending rates. Another challenge that many researchers may face is the fact that Megan’s Law mostly serve as a deterrent but not as support equipment. This is why it is necessary to determine once again the purposes of Megan’s Law and analyze why so many people cannot or do not want to inform about sexual offences and give up a criminal.
In order to make this research more effective, it is better to explain people how exactly their information is important. Even more, it is possible to promise people and provide them with free medical examination and support from police. People should believe that they have a kind of support and may trust someone to share their problems and find appropriate solutions. Dantzker and Hunter (2000) say that to “successfully complete any type of research, it is important to establish a feasible plan or blueprint, the research design.
This plan primarily responds to the common five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and H (how) of investigation.” When we talk about sexual offenders and the effectiveness of Megan’s Law, we have a clear explanation of who commit a crime and who should inform about it, what, where, and when is violated. The significant point is why this violation happens. This is why it is necessary to clear up why people commit the crime and why the victims do or do not announce it.
When we should answer how the crime is committed and how research should be conducted, it is better to take into consideration external factors, such as physical and emotional condition of the offender, place, where the crime takes place, and the reasons why the person was chosen as a victim. After researchers consider these facts, it will be much easier to make clear and strong conclusions at the end of the investigation.
People cannot stop committing crimes. Usually, offenders have enough ideas to explain why they do this or that and who/what is the reasons. Sometimes, victims may provoke people to commit the crime: it may be their words or behavior, or anything else that may cause negative reactions. The case of Megan Kanka is terrible indeed. This girl was kidnapped, raped, and murdered. She was only 7 year old. Jesse Timmendequas has no right to do those disgusting things and deprive the girl from the opportunity to continue this life.
Megan’s Law is one of the brightest steps, taken by the government in order to underline that such murders play a significant role for society. Of course, the decision to release the murder may be considered as rather unfair. Without any doubts, it cannot be justified. This is why the measures taken to prevent other children are quite justified.
People have the right to know who lives nearby. The question is if people can live close to a person, who has already committed such a terrible crime as rape and kidnapping. Parents know that, somewhere near, a person, who has done terrible things, may repeat the same with their own children. What should they do: change their address or every day live with a thought that something bad may happen.
Sexual offenders’ registration is necessary indeed. However, is it fair that offenders and even killers have the right to continue living within society and frightening people? In order to clear up whether Megan’s Law is necessary or not, it is better to ask people inform about sexual offences. This information may be rather crucial in order to stop violence and provide people with opportunities to live safely.
Dantzker, M. L. and Hunter, R. D. (2000). Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Primer. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Zgoba, K. M. and Bachar, K. (2009, April 9). Sex Offender Registration and Notification: Limited Effects in New Jersey. National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Retrieved May 5, 2009, from
Megan’s Law: What, Why, and How
Importance of Research in Criminology
Limitations in the Study and Possible Improvements