Sex Offender Notification Proposed for Social Media
A New Jersey state senator wants to require all persons convicted of a sex crime to post that information on their online social networking pages. The legislator proposes a state law that is modeled after a statute recently enacted in a southern state.
The proposed law is not likely to achieve anything significant. For one thing, Facebook does not allow persons convicted of sex crimes to use its site (although monitoring the requirement is difficult). And in New Jersey, after being released from incarceration for a sex offense, a person faces a lifetime on parole and could be forbidden from using social networking sites.
Sex Offender Registration
It’s already possible to check whether an individual living in New Jersey has been convicted of a serious sex offense. Anybody can access this information through an online database maintained by the Division of State Police.
The database was established as a component of Megan’s Law, which requires some sex offenders to register personal information so it can be accessed by the general public and law enforcement. Unfortunately, caught up in the net along with those who were found guilty or pleaded guilty are persons who were found not guilty of a sex offense by reason of insanity.
Implicit in the provisions of Megan’s Law is an assumption that persons who have been convicted of a sex offense and served their time are still dangerous once released. The registrants undergo a police assessment to determine the risk that they might offend again, given the nature of their crime and their history. Before the information on each offender is made public, the offender has an opportunity for a court hearing.
The intention in providing the data to the public, according to the New Jersey State Police’s website, is to enable people to protect themselves from harm. According to a 2008 study, however, New Jersey’s Megan’s Law does not prevent either repeat sex offenses or new offenses. Parents can more effectively protect their children from sex offenders by educating them and monitoring their activities online.
A conviction for a sex offense is a serious matter that has lifelong impact. Anyone accused of a sex crime needs the help of an experienced criminal attorney. An attorney can also be of help after incarceration when a person faces the possibility of mandatory registration under Megan’s Law.