• 2016 Crime Review: A look at the effectiveness of sex offender registries


    The number and rate of substantiated claims of child sexual assault peaked in 1992, four years prior to the passage and implementation of the state’s original Megan’s Law, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

    Between 1992 and 1995, when Megan’s Law was signed into law but before it went into effect, the number of substantiated claims of child sexual assault fell from more than 4,500 to less than 3,100, according to DHS reports.

    Substantiated reports dropped sharply in 1996, when Megan’s Law first went into effect, but rebounded a year later.

    The rapid decline at the enactment of Megan’s Law followed by a quick rebound is similar to findings in a 2006 study of the effectiveness of Megan’s Law in New Jersey.

    That study concluded Megan’s Law “showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses” and “has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.”

    The study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Corrections concluded, “given the lack of demonstrable effect of Megan’s Law on sexual offenses, the growing cost may not be justifiable.”

    Pennsylvania’s decrease at the time of the enactment of Megan’s Law may also have less to do with the law and more to do with changing demographics.

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    Categories: Community, Court Findings, Resources, Statistics and Research

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