The New York Times
Trying to Sort Out the Legalities of Megan’s Law [May 16] presented a skewed perception of sexoffender recidivism rates and was unbalanced because it failed to include statistics and otheropinions supporting community notification of the whereabouts of high-risk sex offenders.
Although sex offender treatment will not eliminate sex crimes, research supports the notion thattreatment can decrease sex offenses. However, generalizations about recidivism rates should not bemade because program selection criteria drastically affect resulting rates. For
example, recidivism rates for low-risk sex offenders should not be associated with communitynotification, which
Laura Ahearn, a certified social worker and mother of two daughters discovered more than two years after New York enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act of 1996 (Megan’s Law), that the Suffolk County Police Department had stopped enforcing it. In May 1998, Denny Chin, a Federal judge, ruled that Megan’s Law could not be applied retroactively and the Suffolk County police mistakenly applied the injunction, meant for sex offenders who were on probation, on parole or incarcerated prior to the day the law took effect, to all convicted sex offenders.
New York’s version of Megan’s Law mandates community notification and public accessibility to asub-directory which lists the most violent of sexual predators. The Sexual Offender RegistrationAct became a law in New York on January 21, 1996, with the legislative intent of reducing the riskof children like Megan Kanka being attacked by known sexual offenders. The Suffolk County PoliceSex Crimes Unit in Yaphank houses the Sexual Offender Registry sub-directory for Suffolk County,which until recently, provided the community with detailed information about violent sexualpredators. In May, the Suffolk County Police Legal Bureau