WASHINGTON - Megan's Law soon could go international.
The law named after Megan Kanka, 7, of New Jersey, who was raped and killed by a neighbor in 1994, requires convicted sex offenders to be registered with the government, making it easier to track their whereabouts. Their names can then be put into databases, allowing the public to do a quick online check to determine where offenders reside.
While the law now applies to all states, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) is proposing a worldwide crackdown on high-risk sex offenders and sex trafficking.
Under his bill, convicted sex offenders would have to tell local law enforcement of their travel plans 21 days before leaving their country. That information would then be shared with diplomatic officials in foreign countries, who could keep track of the offenders.
Lungren is already working with the Mexican government on the plan. "The idea is to notify law enforcement officials in those countries that people are traveling," said Lungren, who called sex trafficking "a plague on our region and our nation."
The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the plan, saying it would be wrong to impose new restrictions on people who have served their sentences. However, Michael Macleod-Ball, ACLU's chief legislative and policy counsel, said he fears the bill will pass because no one in Congress will want to cast a vote that could be interpreted as supporting sex offenders.
Nicholas Sensley, chief of police in Truckee, Calif., established the first human-trafficking task force in New York in 2001 and wrote human-trafficking guidelines adopted by the U.S. Justice Department. He said Lungren's plan would fight sex offenders who cross borders "undetected, unnoticed and really, in a large part, unconcerned."
- McClatchy Newspapers