WASHINGTON: A MEGAN’S LAW FOR CAMPUSES
Under Republican Rep. Matt Salmon's legislation, universities would be required to make public information about convicted sex offenders attending or working at most institutions of higher learning. The House passed the legislation unanimously without much attention last month. According to Newsday, the Campus Protection Act would apply to colleges and universities that receive federal funding. It was attached to an education bill that makes technical changes to a 1998 student aid law. The Senate has not yet taken up a companion bill. The legislation was drafted by Salmon to close what he calls a loophole in existing sex offender disclosure law. Police are required to release information about violent sexual predators to communities where they settle. Currently, college privacy policies prevent campus officials from disclosing such information about students or employees. Opponents of Megan's Law have said it makes sex offenders vulnerable to retaliations. After someone is discovered in a registry, critics say, he could be unfairly targeted by violence or other harassment. Laura Ahearn, founder and director of Suffolk County based Parents for Megan's Law, said retaliation against registered sex offenders is rare. The group's Web site, parentsformeganslaw.com, cautions viewers to use registry information wisely. What we've seen is that, considering the vast amount of notifications and the information that's been released, there's been very little retaliation throughout the nation, Ahearn said. I don't think the risk is any greater for retaliation in a college campus community. Some critics have said the law could create administrative headaches for universities and an official at a Long Island university said he could foresee the law becoming just another government regulation that would cost schools time and money to fulfill. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) who supports the law said, I'd rather have a problem with administration than have a woman raped or murdered. The benefit outweighs any procedural difficulties.