Parents for Megan’s Law, a group named after a 7-year old New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a child molester who moved in across the street, has released a new survey finding that states across the country have lost track of tens of thousands of rapists, child molesters, and other sex offenders supposed to be registered in Megan’s Law databases. Nationally, 52% of rapists are re-arrested for new crimes within three years of leaving prison. The Megan’s Law databases in combination with state laws are supposed to warn communities about the presence of convicted sex offenders, and to help the public and police monitor the ex-convicts by keeping track of their home and work addresses.
After an Associated Press investigation revealed that California had lost track of some 33,000 sex offenders, Parents for Megan’s Law contacted all 50 states by telephone to discuss the accuracy of their registries. The survey found that states on average were unaware of the whereabouts of 24% of sex offenders supposed to be in the databases. Nineteen states, including Texas and New York, were unable to ascertain how many sex offenders were failing to register. In the 32 states that tracked the number missing, the databases lacked up-to-date addresses for more than 77,000 sex offenders. Federal law mandates that the addresses of convicted sex offenders be verified at least once a year. In the other 18 states and the District of Columbia, which are responsible for 133,705 offenders, thousands of the ex-convicts seem to have disappeared from the databases.