Obama Signs International Megan’s Law

Us-passportAs people become more aware of the impact that sexual abuse has on the lives of those who are victimized, more laws are made to protect these people. Unfortunately, some of these laws have to do with those who have already committed an offense rather than being able to prevent them from committing the first offense. Megan’s Law is one such law. Although it was born of the death of a young girl, it may provide some level of protection or awareness for children and their caregivers, when it comes to international travel.

Origins of Megan’s Law

Megan Kanka was an average 7-year old girl, content to play in her own front yard when the weather permitted. The sexual abuse and subsequent death of Megan Kanka spurned the original Megan’s Law in New Jersey. The terms of the law dictated that residents of New Jersey had to be made aware any time a sex offender moved into the area. The next natural step was to take it the federal level.

International Megan’s Law

Originally presented in 2009 by Republican Representative Chris Smith, it arrived on President Obama’s desk in 2016. The president signed the law into effect, and now sex offenders are recognized on an international level. U.S. citizens who have been convicted of a sex crime will now carry special marks on their passports that will indicate their history of sexual offense(s). Authorities in the U.S. will alert other countries when a sex offender is traveling from America to their country. In return, other countries will alert the U.S. when one of their sex offenders plans to travel to the United States.

Up until now there was no way to monitor and alert residents once a sex offender crossed international borders. According to the Government Accountability Office, in 2008, approximately 4,500 U.S. passports were issued to registered sex offenders. This indicates a possibility that offenders seek out victims in foreign countries, typically without anyone aware of their offenses. The hopes for this new law is to decrease the number of sex crimes that are committed against children all over the globe and hopefully deter offenders who wish to commit these crimes in other countries.