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What is Megan’s Law?

Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj have made news with their current rap beef. The social media dispute started with Megan Thee Stallion’s new song, “Hiss”, and her line referencing “Megan’s Law”. Lots of attention has been brought to the song, but the line in question is the focus of this article. What is Megan’s Law

Megan’s Law is named after sexual assault and murder victim, Megan Kanka. Reportedly, Megan Kanka’s father, Richard, is upset about the addition of this line to the song. Regardless of how the attention to this law has occurred, this law is extremely important as it protects underaged kids against predators. After it was adopted in New Jersey, Megan’s Law was adopted federally in 1996 to mandate that sex offenders register their address to law enforcement. This is largely due to the passionate activism of the Kanka family. 

On 29 July 1994, Megan Kanka was sexually assaulted and murdered by a neighbour; unbeknownst to her parents they had been living across the street from a convicted sex offender and child molester. In Hamilton Township, New Jersey, Megan Kanka was lured into her neighbour Jesse Timmendequas’ house as he offered to show her a puppy. She never came back home that afternoon. The next day, after Megan Kanka was reported missing and a search had been established, Timmendequas confessed to the police. Maureen, Megan Kanka’s mother, was asked to identify her daughter’s bloodstained clothes from the night of the murder. Timmendequas was sentenced to death by the New Jersey Supreme Court, but after the New Jersey Legislature abolished the death penalty in 2007, he has since been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. 

Timmendequas had previously been convicted for two different sexual offences involving minors or underaged girls. After an assault in 1981 with an underaged girl, his sentence was suspended; a year later, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for the attempted sexual assault and murder of  a seven-year-old girl. He was released after six years for good behaviour, and eventually moved into the Kanka’s neighbourhood with two other convicted sexual offenders, whom he met while serving time for his previous violent sexual offences. Megan Kanka’s parents believe that the publicization of that information could have saved her life.  

 Since the 1990s, personal information has become increasingly more accessible. In fact, many websites list registered sex offenders who are living and working in your community. In fact, twenty-one states have the information publicly available on the internet. Megan’s Law protects not just children, but all potential victims in the United States. The practice of the law differs from state to state, but ultimately mandates that states register the addresses of convicted sex offenders. Some states have the information available at police stations, while others may have to call or write to obtain the information. Megan’s law offered the public more access to information that could provide essential information regarding their children’s and their own safety.

Although Megan’s Law has largely been celebrated, there are some controversies surrounding the content. At least ten percent of the information given by offenders is false. Additionally, some believe that the disclosure of sex offenders' addresses breaches their privacy and opens them up as targets for revenge and vigilantism. The question of punishment or prevention is often posed around this law. 

Despite the way in which Megan’s Law was propelled back into people’s minds, it deserves to be discussed. Legal actions like this can save lives. However, it is important to recognize that judicial matters must be amended to serve all people with the best possible rights and protections. 


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