It is possible to hate Megan’s Law without supporting child molesters, you know.
Megan’s Law requires those convicted of certain sexual offenses to register where they live. They get their face and name plastered all over the web and people in the neighborhood knows who they are. It also restricts where they can live so that they cannot come into contact with children. It’s like having to wear a big Scarlet Letter for the rest of their lives.
The problem is that legislators have made the law so expansive and added so many limitations that it can provide a punishment much harsher than the underlying crime.
I have a current case wherein my client, who was a good, upstanding citizen with no criminal record, copped a feel from a 14 year old girl. That is absolutely wrong, and a crime, and he admitted to it and went to face his penalty. He got a few months in jail for this.
But Pennsylvania recently changed its Megan’s Law, and now this crime — a misdemeanor — is included. He finished his jail time and was ready to be released, but lo and behold, Megan’s Law won’t let him go back to the home in New York city where he’s lived for most of his adult life. You see, he has an upstairs tenant and they have a four-year old girl.
So he found a relative to live with. Nope, no good — Megan’s Law says you can’t live within a certain distance of schools or bus stops, and that distance means that there is practically no place in New York where you can live. He’s now searching for someplace outside of the city, which means he has to rent a new place and commute a long distance every day. (It also means he can’t use a computer because, you know, people can use it to look at child pornography. In this day and age, not being able to use a computer is like not being able to watch TV or go to the library.)
This guy is no risk. His evaluation showed that he was not a pedophile. They checked him out completely and there was no child pornography anywhere in his home or on his computer. He did not fit the profile of a child abuser in the slightest.
He copped a feel over the clothes of a mature 14 year old, and now he is on a list that everyone can see but not know what he actually did. For all they know, he raped a child. Megan’s Law doesn’t care or differentiate.
If he had punched her in the face, he would have gotten less jail time.
Once more, I am not against Megan’s Law in principle, but this is like treating a murderer and a jaywalker with the same harsh lifetime penalty.