"Megan's Law is named after a 7-year-old Hamilton Township, New Jersey girl named Megan Nicole Kanka. On July 29, 1994, she was lured into her neighbor's home with the promise of seeing a puppy. Instead, Megan was brutally raped and murdered by a two-time convicted sex offender who had been convicted in 1981 of an attack on a 5-year-old child and an attempted sexual assault on a 7-year-old.
Eighty-nine days after Megan Kanka's disappearance, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed the first state-level version of what we know as Megan's Law.
The passage of Megan's Law in New Jersey eventually led to the May 1996 passage of a federal law which is also known as Megan's Law.
New Jersey's Megan's Law has specific mandates for active community notification which ensures that the community will be made aware of the presence of convicted sex offenders who may pose a risk to public safety.
Under New Jersey's law, if a convicted sex offender is determined to pose a moderate risk of re-offending then schools and community groups likely to encounter that offender will be notified.
If an offender is determined to pose a high risk of re-offending, then schools, community groups and members of the public, such as neighbors who are likely to encounter the offender, will be notified.
Parents nationwide have been under the false impression that they, too, would be notified of a resident sexual predator, because of the false assumption that New Jersey's state law is the same as each individual state's law.
The federal version of Megan's Law is drastically different than New Jersey's version of Megan's Law. The federal law requires all 50 states to release information to the public about known convicted sex offenders when it is necessary to protect their safety but do not mandate active notification.
If a state fails to comply with minimal release of information standards established by the federal government, then that state risks losing federal crime-fighting funding.
The federal mandate to release information to the public is often mistakenly referred to as community notification when, in actuality, the federal mandate requires just the release of information to the public--not active notification.
There is a significant difference between simply releasing information (making it available for the public to access on its own) and active community notification, when law enforcement officers go door to door to inform neighbors and schools.
The federal Megan's Law does not require all 50 states to enact active notification laws, whereas New Jersey's Megan's Law has specific requirements for active community notification. Not all 50 states allow this data to be viewed on the internet as well."