Megan's law, in the United States, a state or federal statute that requires the notification of public organizations and private citizens when a convicted sex offender has been released from prison and is present in their community. Aimed primarily at stopping the abuse of children by pedophiles, the first of these laws was passed in New Jersey a year after the 1994 rape and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka by a convicted child molester who, unknown to her family, lived across the street from them. The federal Megan's law dates from 1996, and most states have passed some version of the statute. The actual effectiveness of such laws is unclear, and they have raised concerns over whether they encourage vigilantism.
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Publication information: Article title: Megan's law. Encyclopedia title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. © 2012 The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 2012, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. Used with the permission of Columbia University Press. All Rights Reserved. Publisher: The Columbia University Press. Place of publication: Not available. Publication year: 2013.
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