A new California law, Assembly Bill 488 (Nicole Parra), sponsored by the Attorney General now provides the public with Internet access to detailed information on registered sex offenders.
This expanded access allows the public for the first time to use their personal computers to view information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement under California's Megan's Law. Previously, the information was available only by personally visiting police stations and sheriff offices or by calling a 900 toll-number. The new law was given final passage by the Legislature on August 24, 2004 and signed by the Governor on September 24, 2004.
For more than 50 years, California has required sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agencies. However, information on the whereabouts of these sex offenders was not available to the public until the implementation of the Child Molester Identification Line in July 1995. The information available was further expanded by California's Megan's Law in 1996 (Chapter 908, Stats. of 1996).
California's Megan's Law provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children. Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kankas sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. All states now have a form of Megan's Law.
The law is not intended to punish the offender and specifically prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against an offender.
California's Megan's Law requires that certain information about sex offenders be made available upon request to members of the public, so that the public is better prepared to protect themselves and their children.
The intent of this information is to empower citizens with data to assist them in making informed decisions regarding personal and family safety. Civil misuse of this information may subject the person to civil damages. Anyone who uses this information contained in this database to commit a criminal act against another is subject to criminal prosecution.
Parents who are concerned regarding a potential sex offender should consider viewing the "How to Protect Yourself and Your Family" and the "Facts About Sex Offenders" sections of California's Megan's Law web site.